You may have heard a horror story of how a person launches their brand on Amazon but soon gets plagued by counterfeiters and listing hijackers.
In 2021, over 700,000 brands became part of Amazon’s thriving e-commerce ecosystem. In the same year, the platform stopped nearly 2.5 million bad actors from infesting its marketplaces.
These stats show that the number of brands and attempts to exploit those brands and their selling privileges is increasing with each passing day.
Whether you’ve already launched your brand on Amazon or planning to do it in the near future, it is natural to think about how to protect it from any malicious activity.
In this post, we will talk in detail about how you can protect your brand on Amazon to continue your e-commerce journey with much-needed peace of mind.
Without any further delay, let’s start our discussion.
Before anything else, enroll in Brand Registry. Then, join the Amazon transparency program that can help Amazon separate authentic products from counterfeits. You can also get the privilege of removing counterfeit listings on your own through Amazon’s Project Zero given that you have been proactively reporting infringements on Amazon.
Moreover, if you have maintained a successful record of reporting counterfeits, you can apply for gating your brand on Amazon so that only authorized resellers can list your products on the platform.
Want to know how to execute all of this? Continue reading…
Enrolling in Amazon Brand Registry is one of the most essential prerequisites for any brand owner who wants to operate on the platform. It’s like having a driving license to be at the steering wheel. From better analytics to more listing and advertising options, Brand Registry helps sellers in many ways to boost their brand.
More importantly, it helps in certain ways in protecting the brand and product of a seller. For instance, a Brand Registry member gets a dedicated internal team from Amazon for dealing with IP infringement claims. Similarly, as a Brand Registry seller, you can have your listing contributions and variations errors fixed more quickly.
If you want to be part of the Amazon Brand Registry as a seller, you need to fulfill these requirements.
It is worth mentioning here that Amazon only accepts trademarks that are registered in the following countries/jurisdictions:
Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Egypt, France, Germany, India, Japan, Italy, Netherlands, Mexico, Poland, Singapore, Spain, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the European Union, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States.
If you’re an active seller on Amazon and want to get under the protection of the Amazon Brand Registry, you must have a trademark for your private label brand. You can’t get enrolled in Amazon Brand Registry without a trademark.
If you think it’s a hassle to work with government departments (due to red-tapping) for registering your trademark, you can make use of Amazon’s IP Accelerator Program. It’s a free program by Amazon for sellers who want to take the next step and protect their private label brands on Amazon.
IP Accelerator Program essentially provides sellers with a network of trustworthy IP law firms that makes the entire affair of trademark registration smooth sailing. Sellers can save both time and money that usually goes into the traditional trademark registration process. Also, once you get connected with an IP law firm via the Accelerator program, you can enroll in Amazon Brand Registry program without any interruption.
Amazon has significantly improved its brand protection regimen in the last couple of years. Today, there are multiple programs/brand services (besides Brand Registry) that help sellers protect their brands on the platform. After becoming part of the Brand Registry, we’ll highly recommend you consider joining these programs.
Amazon launched this program in 2017 to have a “transparent” product serialization that can help identify counterfeits before product shipping. The program offers double protection. On one hand, it protects customers from cheap knockoffs. On the other hand, it protects authentic brands and sellers from counterfeiters.
So how does this transparency program work?
When you sign up for the program, Amazon will give you a series of unique 2D barcodes for every individual item. These barcodes are then affixed to product packaging. If your brand is covered with the Transparency program, Amazon will authenticate every product sold under your brand name before sending it to customers.
If the 2D barcode on the given item matches Amazon’s Transparency database, the platform proceeds with fulfillment. Otherwise, Amazon will mark the item as a potential counterfeit. Sellers can see how the Transparency program works in their favor in the Brand Reports (details of how many orders are flagged as potential counterfeits, how many infringement notices have been sent, etc).
Customers can also cross-verify the products powered by the Transparency program. There’s a Transparency app that customers can download on their phones. They can scan the barcodes affixed to the product via the app. If the product is authentic, the customer will see a green checkmark on their screen and different product details (features, where it is made, etc).
If you are a Brand Registry member with a registered trademark and GTIN, you can become part of the Transparency program.
Resellers usually are not that diligent in keeping order details down to a tee. For instance, they may not bother sending the product color chosen by the customer just because they don’t have it. A customer getting the wrong version of the product reflects reflect poorly on the brand and seller even if they are not selling it directly.
The unique-to-each-item feature of the Transparency program comes in handy in such situations. Every Transparency-protected item will have a different barcode in Amazon’s database. So, even if it is the same product with a slight change, it won’t go through.
This means resellers won’t be able to send the order in the wrong colors, dimensions, material, etc. This is a great feature for sellers who don’t want to compromise on their brand sanctity in any case.
There is no subscription or recurring fee to join the program. However, brand owners will have to buy those unique barcode labels from Amazon at 1-5 cents per label. The price varies based on the volume. You will get a single label at 5 cents, 1 million labels at 3 cents, and more than 10 million labels at 1 cent.
For small-scale sellers with budding private label brands, a 5-cent additional expense on every product may not be viable. Nonetheless, there are many scenarios where opting for the Transparency program makes complete sense.
For the longest time, sellers dreaded the exhaustive process of reporting an infringement to Seller Support. It entailed a lot of back and forth and many times sellers couldn’t even get the desired response. Amazon was aware of that inefficient counterfeit escalation channel and hence introduced Project Zero in 2019.
This program has multiple facets and one of them is to give sellers the authority to remove the counterfeit listings themselves without needing the liaison of Seller Support.
In simple words, if you encounter a listing that has used your registered trademark and brand name, you can take down that listing on your own using your Project Zero privilege.
Project Zero also powers an intuitive AI-powered automation that processes over eight billion listing updates every day to remove counterfeits.
Besides being a trademark owner and Brand Registry member, Amazon needs you to have a record of submitting brand infringement or counterfeit claims in the past (at least one in the last six months). Moreover, those submissions must have no less than a 90% success rate.
Since this program gives too much authority to brand owners, Amazon can have additional criteria for sellers, varying from case to case.
Also, you need to maintain 99% accuracy with your counterfeit removal actions to continue having Project Zero privileges. Amazon has set this condition to ensure no one can abuse this listing removal service.
You can pair up Project Zero and the Transparency program to make the most of Amazon’s brand protection services. A brand having layered protection of both Project Zero and the Transparency program will continue to thrive on the world’s largest e-commerce platform without infringement issues.
A product protected by self-service counterfeit removal and serialized by Transparency barcodes is very less likely to see its knockoffs being sold on the Amazon marketplace
There is no cost to be part of Amazon Project Zero. If you are a Brand Registry member and have successfully reported trademark violations in recent times, you are most likely to get Project Zero’s counterfeit listing removal privilege.
One way to deter counterfeiters is to make sure third-party sellers get your permission before selling your branded product on Amazon. Amazon has made it possible by putting “Brand Gating” in place.
Brand gating is not an open program like Transparency or Project Zero. Usually, Amazon provides this feature to big, renowned brands by default (Nike, Apple, etc) since they face the counterfeit problem the most.
Nonetheless, it is not just confined to only those brands. If you are a private label brand owner with a well-established footprint on Amazon, you can also apply for brand gating as well.
There is no dedicated brand gating homepage where you can sign up for it. You will have to reach out to Seller Support and ask them to gate your brand. Since getting brand approval requires persuasion through an application, you need to make a compelling case for your brand.
Therefore, make sure you check those boxes before penning down the application.
Compile all this evidence in the form of documents along with the list of the product ASINs you want to gate. Attach all these pieces of information with your brand gating application. Showing this thoroughness in applying for brand gating will increase your chances to get approved.
Template for Amazon Brand Gating Application
You can use this template to make your case for brand gating.
Hi Seller Support,
I’ve been selling on Amazon for [insert years] years and have established my private label brand [insert brand name] from scratch. I am enrolled in Brand Registry and have done everything in my capacity to fight the curse of counterfeit products on the platform.
My products are labeled with Transparency barcodes and I have successfully filed infringement reports against multiple counterfeiters. Besides reporting the instances of counterfeiting and listing hijacking to Amazon, I’ve also proactively acted against those bad actors myself. You can see the attached strongly-worded cease-and-desist letter I sent to counterfeiters.
Having a reputed brand of my own and after relentlessly working against counterfeiters through the aforementioned measures, I think it’s time for me to have my brand gated. I don’t mind third-party sellers selling my products. However, I want to ensure they do it after my permission so that only honest resellers can list on my ASINs.
Granting brand gating won’t just give added protection to my brand. It will also help in making the Amazon marketplace a safer place for sellers free of counterfeiters and hijackers.
You can see the list of ASINs I want to gate under my brand. Also, the attached document file contains the snapshots of my counterfeit reporting and cease-and-desist letters.
Hoping to hear from you soon!
[Insert Seller Name and Brand Name]
It is worth mentioning here that there are no guarantees that you can get Brand Gating despite fulfilling all the requirements mentioned above. Approving brand gating is Amazon’s prerogative that it can deny or confer to any seller. If you get approved for the Brand Gating, you will hear from Amazon within 4-8 weeks.
Pro Tip: If you want to further increase your chances of getting brand gating approved, try to mention fewer ASINs in your application (they could be your best-sellers). Some sellers have succeeded in getting their brand partially gated by sending only a couple of ASINs to Amazon.
No, you don’t have to pay anything to get your brand gated. If Amazon considers you eligible, you will acquire this brand protection feature without any fee.
Besides using Amazon’s tools and services, there are some measures you can take on your own to protect your brand on and off Amazon.
Big brands on Amazon are not plagued by counterfeiting just because they are famous. They also face extensive infringement because they usually offer generic daily-use products that are easy to copy.
Therefore, one way to protect your brand and product from counterfeiters is to deal in items that are only manufactured on a tailored order and can’t be easily found as white-label items. Whether you are selling home improvement or personal care options (or any other product category), try to have very custom-made options.
Such items are not just invulnerable to counterfeiting. They are also sold like hot cake.
Here, we will share with you a couple of examples.
Similarly, offering products in bundles and sets can also help deter counterfeiters. When you make a pack of multiple items, it becomes difficult to produce their knockoffs.
It will be difficult to replicate a knockoff of such a peculiar set of kitchen utensils
Website is now a must-have for any e-commerce business (even if they are only operating on Amazon). Therefore, when you are naming your brand, make sure its exact domain is available. Having a website under the same brand name means customers can easily authenticate your business on the web. Also, it will become difficult for counterfeiters to imitate a brand that has a solid footprint on the web.
On top of that, you can always scale and expand your brand outside of Amazon when you have your website under the same name.
Like the website, make your brand’s social media accounts (particularly on Facebook and Instagram) and get them verified as well. The verification badge will again serve as a piece of authentication for your brand and will deter counterfeiters. Moreover, this social media presence will cultivate brand loyalty among customers and create another sales channel.
Yes, you can do it through brand gating. When Amazon gates your brand, you get the authority to approve and decline the requests of sellers who want to resell your brand.
If you think someone is selling a counterfeit version of your product, you can report them to Amazon. You can also take such listings down by yourself if you are a part of Amazon’s Project Zero. You can also threaten the counterfeiters and ask them to take down their offers by sending them cease-and-desist letters.
You will need to spend $200-400 on trademark registration which will make you eligible for Amazon Brand Registry. Amazon Transparency Program, which offers barcode authenticity for every product, can cost you 1-5 cents per order. Meanwhile, self-removal of counterfeit listings and brand gating don’t cost anything.
Click on the Sell On Amazon button from any other account and mention the ASIN of the product you want to check. If that particular item is gated, you will see a warning message showing that you will need the approval to list products of the given brand together with the request approval button.
We hope that the above discussion helps you create a strong regime of brand protection on Amazon. It is quite clear that trademark registration and Brand Registry enrollment are a must to give your brand the much needed protection on Amazon. Then, you can beef up that protection by becoming part of the Transparency program, Project Zero, and having your brand gated.
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