Last month, we discussed a patent holder’s ability to more adeptly pursue patent infringement of its products in the online marketplace through Amazon’s Neutral Patent Evaluation Process, as explained here. Amazon also provides online armor to owners of trademarks (the sister assets of patents) to protect them from knock-off artists who use their brand names to sell their own competing products.
Two such Amazon programs are the Amazon Brand Registry and Project Zero. Both provide invaluable opportunities for brand owners to wield both shield and sword against trademark attacks in the commercial marketplace.
Amazon’s Brand Registry
The Amazon Brand Registry is a boon for eligible companies that sell products on Amazon and want to quickly address knock-off products. On average, enrolled brands reported a 99% reduction in suspected infringements. A critical prophylactic measure against infringers, this brand protection program not only offers brand owners additional tools for reporting violations of their rights, it provides key control mechanisms over brand representation and content.
Some key benefits to enrolling your trademarks with Amazon’s Brand Registry are: (1) access to searching and reporting tools to detect and report violations of images and the Amazon Standard Identification Numbers (ASINs); (2) access to text and image searches through Amazon’s “Report a Violation” tool; and (3) the ability to proactively control and monitor your brand.
Amazon’s Brand Registry also enables you to:
Enhance your brand content by adding a uniquely crafted brand story, as well as enhanced images and text placements.
Grow brand awareness with sponsored ads that feature your logo, a custom headline and up to three of your products.
Promote your brand and products through your own multi-page Amazon Store for no cost.
Utilize Amazon’s brand analytics as a springboard for making informed, strategic and streamlined business decisions using data that teaches you about your customers through search terms and customer behavior data reports.
Refresh your brand’s product listings with quick updates so customers see the most current and accurate product information.
Capitalize on Amazon’s automated protections that use your brand information to proactively remove suspected infringing or inaccurate content. In fact, the more information you provide, the more intelligent the Brand Registry becomes in assisting you with brand protection.
Report violations using Amazon’s powerful search tools to locate and report suspected violations using a simple, guided process.
To date, Amazon’s Brand Registry has stopped 2.5 million bad actor accounts before they were able to publish a single listing on its site. The Registry also blocked over six billion suspected infringements before being published on Amazon. In short, the program works, so if your brand is eligible and you are selling products on Amazon, you should enroll in the program.
Am I Eligible?
To see if your brand is eligible for enrollment with Amazon’s Brand Registry, review these requirements:
- You must be the actual trademark owner.
- You must have one of the following:
- An active registered trademark in each country in which you would like to enroll the brand;
- A pending trademark application filed through Amazon IP Accelerator; or
- A trademark pending registration in a subset of certain trademark offices.
- Your trademark must match the brand name or image on the application form.
- Your trademark must be on the product or its packaging.
To enroll your brand, you must provide the official trademark registration or pending trademark application number. You must also list the product categories (e.g., apparel, sporting goods, electronics) for which the brand should be listed. While only a trademark owner can enroll a brand, you can add an authorized agent once the brand is enrolled.
Once you enroll, Amazon will verify you are the actual brand owner and provide you with a verification code. You send that verification code back to Amazon through its case log. After Amazon verifies that information, enrollment is complete. Official enrollment allows you to add new marks for an already-enrolled brand, to update your brand profile, and to report trademark and other IP violations through the Amazon Brand Registry.
Keep in mind, however, that this registry isn’t open to everyone. First, if you enrolled in the registry before April 30, 2017, you must re-enroll. Second, Amazon only accepts the enrollment of trademarks officially issued by the governments in the U.S., Brazil, Canada, Mexico, Australia, India, Japan, France, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Singapore, Spain, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, United Kingdom, Sweden, European Union and United Arab Emirates. Specific country requirements are available here.
Amazon’s Project Zero
Amazon also offers Project Zero, which is effectively the Amazon Brand Registry on steroids, to its most prolific brand owners. Project Zero is a self-service counterfeit removal tool that provides automated protections based on machine learning. Amazon continuously scans and confirms the authenticity of each product through serialization codes. It then proactively removes suspected counterfeits by scanning over five billion daily listing updates.
Notably, product serialization is not required by the brand owner, but if a brand owner decides to serialize its product, the brand owner should apply a unique code to every unit it manufactures and enrolls. This allows Amazon to detect and stop counterfeiting for every single product unit.
As an added benefit, once a brand is enrolled in one country, it is automatically enrolled in other countries. It is free to enroll in Project Zero, to obtain access to the automated protections and to use the self-service counterfeit removal tool. Keep in mind, however, that brand owners who choose to use the product serialization service incur a cost per unit, based on volume.
Am I Eligible?
To be eligible for Project Zero, the brand owner must:
Be enrolled in Amazon’s Brand Registry.
Own the trademark rights.
Have an Amazon account with access to the Brand Registry.
Have submitted reports of potential infringements with an acceptance rate of at least 90% during the last six months.
To maintain this “frequent flyer” status through Amazon’s Project Zero, you must be diligent as well as accurate. Once enrolled in Project Zero, you must maintain an accuracy rate of at least 99% to maintain your privileges. You must also complete a required training as part of the enrollment process, and Amazon maintains ongoing monitoring to prevent the misuse of its Project Zero tools.
Similar to the Amazon Brand Registry (which is a prerequisite to Project Zero), Project Zero is currently available to eligible brands in the U.S., U.K., France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Japan, India, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Brazil, U.A.E., Turkey, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Sweden and the Netherlands. Unlike Amazon Brand Registry, a brand owner cannot authorize an agent to act on its behalf for Project Zero.
About the authors: Mary Bonnema can be reached at 616.752.2403 or email@example.com. Amber Underhill can be reached at 616.752.2797 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Brianna Loder can be reached at 248.784.5119 or email@example.com.
These materials are for education purposes only. This is not legal advice and does create an attorney-client relationship.