Using trademarks to exercise Amazon brand protection

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When it comes to labelling, regardless if it is private or white, you as a seller must understand what trademarks can do to help you succeed in your Amazon selling journey. Both approaches enable sellers to build their brands and market their products under their brand for an amount which is also considered part of the investment.

Private labelers acquire and offer products solely to their store on Amazon. Meanwhile, white labelers procure unbranded goods from brand manufacturers and custom-package them to make the products look like their own. Since the Amazon population is exponentially increasing, it pays to be knowledgeable about Amazon Brand Protection as it helps fight frauds and other threats that can affect sales of all brand owners and authorized resellers; private and white labelers included.

Trademark Tips to Exercise Amazon Brand Protection

To maximize your brand protection by using trademarks, you might want to heed the tips below:

Tip #1: Your trademark has to be striking. There are a lot of challenges you need to face in setting up your business and picking a good name for it is one of them. Of course, while the name should be suggesting to your customers what your business is offering, you will also want it to catch their attention at the same time and make it uniquely tied to your brand. Picking a good name is important not only for customers to have an easy glimpse of your products but also so you can get the protection it deserves under the trademark law of the United States.

The trademark law has what is famously known as the “spectrum of distinctiveness” and experts say this defines the scope of your trademark protection. Ironically, that means that if a trademark is relevant to the products being offered, i.e. it describes the product, then it will be considered less strong and protection will be harder to enforce. With that said, for a trademark to be considered strong, it may have to consist of a name that is fanciful, abstract, or arbitrary. This is something you will want to keep in mind when trying to decide on your seller/storefront name.

Tip #2: Invest in your trademark by hiring a professional. Once you have finally come up with a trademark for your private labeled or white labeled products, you will most likely proceed with the product label designing and the product launching. For the former, it is best to hire an experienced trademark professional who can expertly design your trademark after a thorough analysis of your products.  

Meanwhile, the printing works for white labeling and custom labeling will also demand a budget from you. Hence, before printing thousands, you should make sure your trademark will not be found infringing another, like a pre-existing one. As much as possible, choose a trademark whose name will never sound similar to an existing one for related services and goods. Otherwise, that trademark owner might intervene with your sales and seek damages for possible monetary harm.

As much as possible, implement a comprehensive trademark search that comes with a risk analysis according to the possible existing uses of the trademark you are considering.

Tip #3: Enforce your trademark at an optimum. Even if you are a successful private label or white label products on Amazon, at some point you will be coming across sellers who will be latching onto your listings. The same sellers, commonly known as listing hijackers, will most likely claim they are also offering the same products but at a cheaper price; potentially irreparable harm to your trademark.

Meanwhile, there are also competitors on Amazon that will intentionally use a trademark that is almost similar to yours. In such cases, the competitor will typically benefit from the press, good reviews, and overall goodwill your business is getting. This kind of tactic aims to confuse your customers into believing that the competitors are the rightful trademark owner. This is a form of trademark and identity counterfeiting that necessitates strengthened trademark enforcement.

The Relevance of Enforcement Letters and Clear Plans

When selling in the Amazon marketplace, it is necessary to bear in mind that sans a clear plan and an accurate strategy, your products or brand will most likely become an easy target to counterfeiters and potential infringers. In the same manner, such correspondence may also produce a negative tone in the community that will affect how can respond to the situation.

If also, in your correspondence you misinterpret the law or you make a mistake, you are exposing yourself in liability for spreading false claims against the alleged infringer.

In such cases, the best way to address the situation is to seek legal advice and take legal actions. And once your trademark attorney has attested that your claims are valid and the trademark is infringed and is thus entitled to trademark protection according to what is stipulated in the law, you will then have a few more paths to take. Two of them include:

  1. Sending an enforcement letter;
  2. Filing a trademark takedown notice with Amazon.

Each of the two has its pros and cons. Nonetheless, the first one can be a powerful intimidator against counterfeiters and infringers, especially if they have already established their Amazon account and they do not want to go back to square one.

Your enforcement letter should stipulate your legal claims and the corresponding pieces of evidence which may include certificates of your federal trademark registration. You can initially have this drafted to give the counterfeiter an ultimatum, i.e. the infringer will be automatically removed from the listings and will face your legal actions that will be taken via federal litigation or Amazon takedown notices. However, on the downside, with such notices from Amazon, this approach can easily tip off other counterfeiters and infringers who are expertly hiding their shenanigans. They may even be able to delete their listings in advance and modify their accounts so they can hide even more. Or worse, they can take the offensive path of harassing your brand by giving false and fake reviews and other troublesome courses. Because of these possibilities, you will want to consult an Amazon expert to ensure reliable Amazon brand protection that will expose you to less risks.