Probably everyone is familiar with Amazon, one of the most successful and popular online retailers in the world. Amazon’s popularity makes it one of the best places for businesses to sell products. Unfortunately, it also makes it a tempting target for shady business to sell counterfeit or infringing products. Amazon is constantly looking for ways to stop these sorts of activities. One of the tools they make available to sellers is the Amazon Brand Registry. According to Amazon, the Brand Registry helps “protect your registered trademarks on Amazon and create an accurate and trusted experience for customers.” The service provides tools for identifying intellectual property violations and promoting an accurate representation of sellers’ brands on Amazon.
The Amazon Brand Registry Now Requires a Registered Trademark
Recent changes have improved the usefulness of Brand Registry to sellers, but may have reduced how many businesses can benefit from this tool. As of May 2017, sellers are now required to have a federal trademark registration to qualify for the services. What’s more, the registration must be for a word mark–design marks are not sufficient.
If you already have a registered work mark, you can continue to use the tool (and if you aren’t already using it, you should consider signing up).
If you have not yet registered your trademark, don’t worry: obtaining a trademark registration is not difficult for those who qualify. If you’re already using your trademark to identify yourself as a source for your products, you need to file an application identifying the owner of the trademark and the goods or services it relates to. You also need to provide a specimen showing how you are using the mark in commerce. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) will then review your application and, if it meets their requirements, will register your trademark.
The bad news is that although the process of obtaining a trademark registration is not hard, it can be time consuming. Even a straightforward application can take 8-10 months to proceed from filing to registration. This means if you apply today, it will likely be almost a year before you qualify to use the Amazon Brand Registry. This also means that it could take you 8 months or more to find out that the USPTO will not register your trademark because they think it’s descriptive or it creates a likelihood of confusion with a pre-existing trademark.
Preparing an application need not be expensive: the USPTO charges between $225 and $400 per class, and many firms, including Law 4 Small Business, can help you prepare and file your application for a flat fee. You can also file the application yourself; however, using an experienced trademark attorney will increase your chance of success and potentially reduce the turnaround times with the USPTO.
Given all the above, we recommend you consider the following steps to take advantage of the Amazon Brand Registry:
- Form a LLC. If you don’t already have a LLC, now’s the time. It’s inexpensive, provides many benefits, and it’s important to have proper ownership of a trademark defined. We have a low, flat-rate fee to form a LLC. Learn more about LLC Formation here.
- Trademark Assessment. The USPTO fees are non-refundable, and it can take 8 months or more to hear the USPTO will reject your application. It’s well worth the small fee, to have your trademark assessed by a competent trademark attorney before you embark on the trademark registration process. Learn more about Trademark Assessments here.
- Trademark Registration. Finally, if you’re ready to register your trademark, only properly licensed trademark attorneys can increase your chance of success and minimize turnaround times with the USPTO. Learn more or get started with a Trademark Registration here.
If your business is selling on Amazon, you should strongly consider obtaining a federal trademark registration and using the Amazon Brand Registry. Law 4 Small Business can help you obtain your trademark registration in order to qualify for the Amazon Brand Registry. Contact us to talk with a licensed trademark attorney or to learn more about LLC formation.