As representatives for thousands of our client’s EUTM and UK trade mark registrations, we often receive notifications from the Amazon Brand Registry (UK site) informing us that someone has applied to enrol the client’s brand name. But what is the Amazon Brand Registry? How does one enrol on it? And what benefits does it give to the trade mark owner?
Amazon Brand Registry
Most people around the planet will be familiar with Amazon, the world’s largest retailer, and it’s Amazon Marketplace. Many of us will have purchased something from it. Wikipedia explains that “Amazon Marketplace is an e-commerce platform owned and operated by Amazon that enables third-party sellers to sell new or used products on a fixed-price online marketplace alongside Amazon's regular offerings. Using Amazon Marketplace, third-party sellers gain access to Amazon's customer base, and Amazon expands the offerings on its site without having to invest in additional inventory”. According to the company itself, “Selling online on Amazon is an easy and effective way to reach millions of potential buyers”.
The opportunities and allure of selling through Amazon Marketplace are therefore easy to understand based on its reach alone. But sellers who own an active registered trade mark for their brand that appears on their products or packaging can apply for enrolment with Amazon Brand Registry in order to unlock further benefits, discussed below, as well as to safeguard against infringers (Amazon says that “Enrolled brands report an average of 99% fewer suspected infringements than before the launch of Brand Registry”). This all goes to creating a better, accurate and more trusted experience for customers.
The Amazon Brand Registry (source)
Brand Registry launched in 2017, before being revamped in 2018 (Brand Registry 2.0). It has expanded globally and is currently available in the United States, Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Spain, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Singapore, Netherlands, and Saudi Arabia. It is free to register with, and now has more than 350,000 brands enrolled worldwide.
The Enrolment Process
To submit an application to enrol with Amazon Brand Registry, an applicant or brand owner will need all of the following:
- An Amazon account.
- An active text or image-based registered trade mark for your brand that appears on your products or packaging, including the registered trade mark number. It is understood that a pending application won’t be sufficient. To register with the UK Amazon Brand Registry, a UK registered trade mark is required, although an EU-wide EUTM registration should also still be sufficient until 31 December 2020.
- Specimen photos that show the brand permanently affixed to your products and/or packaging. We understand that merely applying stickers to products won’t be enough, whilst Amazon is also wise to so-called ‘Photoshopping’ to digitally apply logos or brand names to photos of products.
- Details of the relevant product categories in which your brand should be listed on Amazon. Note that this is understood to be different from the goods (or services) that the trade mark is registered against.
- Information on the countries where your brand’s products are manufactured and distributed.
- The ability to verify itself as the rights owner for the trade mark, or else as having consent from the trade mark rights owner, such as being an authorised agent for the trade mark.
After the application to enrol with Brand Registry has been submitted via Amazon’s website, Amazon deals with the trade mark owner and the brand applicant as though they are two different parties. Normally within two weeks, Amazon will get in touch with a contact associated with the identified trade mark registration, providing them with a verification code to pass on to the applicant. A sample of the emails that are typically sent to the registered trade mark contact can be found below (with a sample of the email sent to the Brand Registry applicant beneath), although please note that there can often be slight variations between emails:
Sample Email Sent to the Registered Trade Mark Contact
Subject: [CASE 1234567890] Action Required: Request from Amazon Brand Registry
We write to validate the identity of an individual seeking to enrol MEWBURN ELLIS in Amazon Brand Registry, who provided the following details:
Trademark Registration Number: 000044826
Trademark Registration Office: European Union Intellectual Property Office
You are listed as the contact for the registered trademark for MEWBURN ELLIS.
Please confirm the information below to validate the identity of the individual seeking to enrol MEWBURN ELLIS in Amazon Brand Registry.
We are unable to give you the applicant's name, but we asked them to contact you. To give the applicant approval to enrol MEWBURN ELLIS in Brand Registry, provide them with the verification code listed below. If you do not want to grant access, do not provide the code. After the brand is enrolled with the correct Rights Owner, they can enrol additional users with limited or customized roles.
Verification code: d5dXXX54ea8XXX5c9bfbc16XXX10d42b
Please confirm once the verification code has been shared with the applicant by replying to this email within the next 30 days. To be accepted, the confirmation must be sent from the same email address that received the verification code. If you have not confirmed within the allotted timeframe, the individual’s request to enrol the brand in Brand Registry will be rejected.
Brand Registry helps Rights Owners protect registered trademarks on Amazon and create a more accurate and trusted experience for customers. As the gatekeeper for MEWBURN ELLIS, your role is very important. Enrolment in Brand Registry gives Rights Owners access to powerful tools including proprietary text and image search in addition to increased authority over product listings that have your brand name. For more details, see https://brandservices.amazon.com/.
Thank you in advance for your assistance,
Amazon Brand Registry Support
This is the point at which our own involvement is initiated, having been identified as the trade mark office representative for the trade mark registration in question.
At the same time, the applicant should also receive an email from Amazon that identifies the person or company that has been identified as the registered trade mark contact:
Sample Email Sent to Applicant
From: email@example.com Subject: [CASE 1234567890] Brand Registry request for MEWBURN ELLIS =============================================================
Hello from Amazon Selling Partner Support,
Case ID: 1234567890
Brand Name: MEWBURN ELLIS
Thank you for your interest in Amazon Brand Registry. We have provided a verification code to the public contact listed on the agency website where the trademark for MEWBURN ELLIS is registered. The information available from the agency follows.
Trademark Correspondent Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
To receive the verification code, contact the Trademark Correspondent. Additionally, the Trademark Correspondent is required to confirm with Brand Registry once they have shared the code with you.
The verification code, along with confirmation from the Trademark Correspondent, will verify that you are approved to enrol MEWBURN ELLIS in Brand Registry.
Reply to this case in your Case Log within 30 days providing the verification code and case ID for this application. Once the Trademark Correspondent confirms they have shared the verification code, you will then receive an email to confirm your approval for Brand Registry.
The case ID for your application is: 1234567890
If you did not apply for Brand Registry, contact us through www.amazon-brand-registry.com/contact_us immediately. For any other questions, reply in the Case Log.
Amazon Brand Registry
It is relatively normal for the applicant to then also email the trade mark contact to facilitate the process. Quick action is needed all round at this stage, as the verification code is only valid for 30 days. In our experience, Amazon can send reminders very soon after the initial email has been received in order to encourage prompt attention.
However, there can sometimes be an extra step involved in the verification process. This is when the client of the registered trade mark contact, a law firm for example, is different from the Brand Registry applicant. This can occur, for example, when the trade mark registration is owned by the (international) brand owner, but the UK Amazon Brand Registry applicant is the company’s or brand’s UK distributor. In such circumstances, the registered trade mark contact will need to ascertain from its client that the application is valid and above board, such that the verification code can then be released. Depending upon the responsiveness of the client, this can add some significant time to the process, so special attention can be required. Where this scenario arises, Brand Registry applicants are well advised to alert the brand owner directly, so that they can be ready to approve the request to the registered trade mark contact in a timely manner.
Once the verification code has been provided by the registered trade mark contact, the applicant will need to send it back to Amazon to complete the enrolment process. At the same time, the registered trade mark contact will need to confirm to Amazon that the code has been released. Amazon then verifies the information that has been provided and, if everything is in order, provides the applicant with all of the benefits of Amazon Brand Registry.
Potential Pitfalls and Top Tips for the Enrolment Process
Internet blogs and user forums highlight some of the potential problems and obstacles to a smooth enrolment that applicants have encountered. From dealing with Amazon Brand Registry requests for many years ourselves, we have also come across several oddities and requirements that can sometimes hamper the process.
- Difficulties with enrolment through relying on a UK trade mark registration (at the UK IPO) have also been raised, where no UK IPO representative has been appointed. It appears as though the Amazon Brand Registry ‘review team’ is occasionally unable to locate a public contact [email address] associated with the owner of the trade mark registration, particularly if the owner does not have an easily identifiable website or internet presence. This issue stems from the fact that the UK IPO does not publish email addresses or phone numbers for trade mark owners, only name and postal address, for data protection reasons. However, if a professional representative is formally appointed, such as an IP law firm like Mewburn Ellis, then the Brand Registry review team is quickly able to obtain contact details for the law firm from its website, thereby smoothing and speeding up the process. We would be happy to assist with taking on this role as UK IPO representative. Our normal charge for doing so is currently £110 + VAT. As well as assisting from an Amazon Brand Registry perspective, we would also then monitor renewal deadlines for the trade mark registration, sending you timely renewal reminders, as well as act as ‘Address for Service’ going forward. Please get in touch if you would like to discuss this further.
- Applicants should ensure that a trade mark registration is owned in the relevant territory. Brands must have an active registered trade mark in each country where applicants wish to enrol; a Brand Registry enrolment on one Amazon Marketplace does not carry over to others. Brand owners with commercial interests across multiple territories, via multiple Amazon Marketplaces, should therefore seek to register the trade mark in each relevant country.
- Challenges can sometimes be encountered in relation to persuading Amazon to accept a Brand Registry application for a brand that is slightly different to the corresponding trade mark registration, but these are not always insurmountable. Amazon’s default position is that brand and the trade mark registration must be completely identical, or at least in respect of their verbal element(s). However, we have had success in arguing for the acceptance of ‘near-identical’ names, by relying on established trade mark case law, for example, that has determined that names are considered identical if any differences are likely to be unnoticed by consumers. For instance, MEWBURN ELLIS and MEWBURN-ELLIS ought to be correctly regarded as identical even if they are strictly not. Nevertheless, if the differences between the brand and the registered trade mark are more significant, then multiple Amazon Brand Registry enrolments may be required.
- It is important that the registered trade mark contact, the person or company that receives the verification code from Amazon, replies with confirmation that the code has been shared with the applicant for enrolment from the same email address to which the original email was sent. With reference to the sample email shown above, the confirmatory email shown above should come from email@example.com.
- Some users have reported issues where the owner of the trade mark registration doesn’t exactly correspond to the owner of the Amazon seller account that submitted the application to Brand Registry, if for instance the registration is owned by an individual and the Amazon account is owned by a corporate entity. Whilst this is not our experience, since we have handled verification requests where the trade mark owner is different to the Amazon applicant, it is nevertheless suggested that the owner of the trade mark registration should exactly match the name that the Amazon account is in, where possible.
The Benefits from Enrolment with the Brand Registry
As you would expect, enrolment with Amazon Brand Registry confers benefits relating to brand protection and security onto the brand owner. Amazon Brand Registry is a way for brand owners to confirm that they are the registered and rightful owner for a particular trade mark – so protecting intellectual property and reassuring potential customers about the authenticity of a listing. However, for many people, the principle benefits will not be related to intellectual property at all, but rather related to accessing various seller features that give greater control over product pages, which in turn can result in improved listings and thus engagement with customers.
Greater Brand Protection
Enrolment with Amazon Brand Registry results in additional proactive brand protection measures and facilities being available to brand owners, including:
- Submitting and withdrawing IP infringement claims, and escalate previously submitted issues.
- Report marketplace violations including “not as described” and product review manipulations.
- Report listing issues including incorrect information on detail pages, incorrect variations, and appealing blocked listings.
Using the information provided in the Brand Registry application (hence why it is good to provide as detailed information as possible), Amazon will deploy automated and proactive protection tools that seek out and remove content and listings that are suspected of being infringing, counterfeit or having inaccurate details, meaning that brand owners save the time, effort and stress that they would have otherwise expended in taking action themselves. Fewer rogue listings ultimately means less diverted sales, and so the potential for greater earnings for brand owners.
A relatively new brand protection tool that Amazon has introduced to Brand Registry registrants is the ‘Report a Violation Tool’. This enables brand owners to look for results and listings on Amazon that feature a specific brand name, including those that are no longer active, and so identify and file complaints against infringements.
Improved Brand Presentation
Those who register with Amazon Brand Registry benefit from a greater array of tools and functionality that enable owners to present their brands and products more professionally and authentically, increasing customer confidence as a result through recognition that they are more likely to see genuine and correct information associated with a brand.
Amazon’s Enhanced Brand Content (EBC) and A+ Enhanced Marketing Content (A+ EMC) are two such tools that can be used to improve listings through additional images and text and so create more engaging content.
- Enhanced Brand Content. This allows brand owners to provide more content to product listings by adding photos, text and bullets, all in a much more elegant format. Some sellers anecdotally report soaring sales figures after registering their brand with Amazon Brand Registry and then creating an Enhanced Brand Content (EBC) listing.
Example of Enhanced Brand Content courtesy of Hoover (source)
- A+ Enhanced Marketing Content. This enables brand owners to create visually rich product descriptions by putting images and other visuals directly into product descriptions. Brand owners can also do more with product titles, product details and product images.
Example of A+ Enhanced Marketing Content courtesy of Fitbit (source)
- Better Search and Report Tools. These features have a range of applications and benefits for brand owners, including for brand protection purposes.
Implications of Brexit
Finally, it remains to be seen whether those who have already enrolled with the UK Amazon Brand Registry website based on ownership of an EUTM registration from the EUIPO will need to re-enrol from 1 January 2021 after the Brexit transition period has ended and EUTMs no longer cover the UK. However, if this scenario plays out, account holders should be able to rely on the so-called ‘comparable’ UK registration that will automatically be created, without charge and with like-for-like details as the account holder’s EUTM registration, from 1 January 2021. Unfortunately though, the comparable UK right will have a related, but different registration number, and so re-enrolment may become necessary. Those who have enrolled in the UK Amazon Brand Registry based on an EUTM registration are advised to monitor the situation carefully and to make timely enquiries with Amazon to ensure that the benefits of enrolment are not lost.
For more information about the Amazon Brand Registry, including a list of Frequently Asked Questions, visit Amazon’s information page. Alternatively, please speak to us if you have any questions about Amazon Brand Registry, if you would like our help with obtaining registered trade mark protection for your brand so that you can enrol with Brand Registry, or if you want to engage us to become representative for your trade mark registration at the relevant trade mark office or intellectual property office (IPO).
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