Amazon is taking over the world, but that’s no surprise to retailers.  Amazon knows that to entice sellers to list their products and to ensure buyers the goods they’re seeing are legitimate, it needs to control the problem of counterfeit goods.

The company launched the Amazon Brand Registry Program (ABRP) to do just that, and recent changes to the program show the company’s latest efforts to protect buyers and sellers from knock-offs.

The ABRP is a program for sellers who manufacture or sell their own branded products.  The program intends to help private sellers better manage their brands and list their products on Amazon.

One recent twist to the ABRP is the requirement of a trademark registration for the brands that want to qualify.  While this is an extra hurdle for brand owners, the benefits are significant and something every Amazon seller should consider.

How do you qualify?
In order to qualify for the ABRP, a seller must be a manufacturer, brand owner, or a reseller with authorization from the owner to manage the brand on Amazon.

To enroll in the ABRP, a seller completes an online application on Amazon, and submits an image of the product and packaging, with the brand visible, along with a link to the product website.  Most importantly, Amazon now requires that brand owners also submit proof of a registered trademark to qualify for the ABRP.

The key is trademark registration – not just using a brand or even submitting a trademark application to the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).  A registration means that the USPTO has reviewed the trademark and its use for associated goods or services, and determined that it qualifies for all the benefits of federal registration.

The trademark registration process can be long, anywhere from 7-9 months on the “fast track”, to a year or more if there are problems with the application.

What are the benefits?  The benefits of the ABRP to sellers include:

1.) More control of product details.  The ABRP allows owners to manage the content on the product details pages, including product titles, descriptions, details, and images.  This level of control over brand identify is a huge benefit to sellers, because good pictures, descriptions, and product titles can lead to higher product views and convert to more sales (clicks on the “Buy Box”).

2.) Hijacker protection.  An Amazon “hijacking” happens when a seller sells a counterfeit or similar version of a private label product without permission.  The competition for the Amazon “Buy Box” is fierce and a hijacker often piggybacks on the original seller’s successful listing and product description to sell their own similar or counterfeit product.  Being a member of the ABRP enables a sellers to quickly flag hijackers or counterfeiters to Amazon, file a complaint, and have the counterfeiter removed from the original listing.

3.) Simplified Product ID.  The ABRP uses its own Global Catalogue Identifier (GCID) for sellers who do not have Global Trade Item Numbers (GTINs) or a Universal Product Code (UPC).  The benefit of a GCID is that it can be applied to all branded products that are part of the ABRP, saving a seller the cost of obtaining individual GTIN or UPC codes for each product.

Why do it?
The ABRP program is an advantage to sellers who want more control over their product descriptions and greater ability to remove hijackers or counterfeiters from squatting on their product page.

The ABRP also requires product owners to use consistent branding, whether by proof of branding on products and packaging, or by requiring proof of a registered trademark. This may appear to be an extra cost, but actually comes with a host of benefits attendant with a trademark registration. And ultimately, these steps strengthen the brand through consistent trademark use on the packaging, the goods, and the product website.

The ABRP is something all sellers should consider, and the additional requirement of a trademark registration is a small price to pay to fight counterfeiters and stand out in the Amazon marketplace.