More and more, Amazon is becoming a difficult marketplace for businesses to ignore. With 50% or more of the US population having a Prime membership, ignoring Amazon can mean, at best, losing potential revenue and, at worst, permanent damage being done to your business.
What is often frustrating is that Amazon doesn’t always seem to have a seller’s best interests at heart. This article will explore several tactics you can use for adequate brand protection on Amazon.
- Protect your Amazon intellectual property (copyright, trademarks, and patents) from being stolen.
- Safeguard your product description and brand presentation on Amazon.
- Control unauthorized sellers
- Identify counterfeits to be removed.
Before we discuss the specific ways you can protect yourself, let us discuss the fundamental truths that shape how brand control is managed on Amazon.
- Listings are community property – Once a product is listed on Amazon, anyone with that exact product can list their offer alongside yours.
- You can’t stop your product from being listed on Amazon. While you may remove a listing that uses copyrighted images or copies without permission, Amazon won't delete a listing just because a business doesn't want its products on the platform.
- Anyone can create a listing – Anyone with access to Seller Central can create a listing. They don't need to be an authorized seller or representative.
- Amazon will not get involved in distribution agreements – You won't be able to remove a listing simply because a seller is working outside your reseller agreement with them.
Okay, that's the bad news. But Amazon brand protection is still possible! You need to identify the right tactics and channels on and off Amazon to manage how your business' products and intellectual property are displayed.
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Brand Protection Programs on Amazon You Should Know About
You should consider the following programs and tactics to ensure solid brand protection on Amazon. These tactics can be applied to your business, team, and seller accounts so that your products and any associated intellectual property is well-protected and safe from abuse.
Tactic 1: Brand Registry
This protection program offered by Amazon gives businesses access to powerful tools to help protect their intellectual property. It allows you to set up a registry with Amazon, enabling your team to check if anyone else is selling products with your name or logo on the platform.
Tactic 2: Seller Central Account Management
If you already have a product registered or are in the process of doing so, one way to protect yourself is through Amazon’s Seller Central Account Management. This allows you to keep your products secure by monitoring sales and reviews and allowing for better control over product pricing.
Tactic 3: Proactive Monitoring and Enforcement
This tactic involves keeping an eye on your product listings, reviews, and other brand-related content. This helps protect you from counterfeiting or unauthorized reselling. You can also use proactive monitoring to identify any issues with customer service or product quality that must be addressed.
In addition, it's also important to be aware of the different types of attacks you will face so you can create a strategy to protect yourself on Amazon.
Different Types of Attacks on Amazon
Attacks on Amazon can come from all directions, including counterfeiting, hijacking, squatting, and false reviews. Often, these attacks will come from malicious actors or even other sellers. Let's look at each of these attacks and the tactics you can use to protect your business' products from these malicious activities.
Copyright, Trademark, and Patents
Attackers will often target your intellectual property, such as copyright, trademarks, and patents. This is why it's crucial to have a registry program in place. Brand registry is the abracadabra tactic that will help your business and team protect their products and any associated intellectual property from abuse.
Here is a quick list of what programs the brand registry offers:
- Copyright and trademark infringement reporting tool
- Transparency (an anti-counterfeiting program)
- A+ content (formerly enhanced content)
- Amazon Vine
- Virtual bundles
- Sponsored Brands (formerly headline search)
- Store Pages
- Amazon Live
- Brand Dashboard
- Brand Analytics
- Amazon attribution
Brand registry is vital to protect against infringement because it helps your business and team control what products are associated with your business, who sells them and how they are sold.
With a registry, you can also monitor Amazon intellectual property better and keep track of any related activities on the platform. While you do not need a brand registry to file a copyright or trademark infringement report, a registry gives you more protection as it offers a more proactive approach.
For instance, on the Brand Registry platform, you are given access to a tool that allows you to search through images, copyrights, and trademarks to find and report any unauthorized sellers or counterfeiters. This is an essential tactic that businesses should take advantage of to protect their product on Amazon. The tool also provides direct links for reporting nefarious sellers or infringing products, ensuring your products remain safe from attacks.
Before reporting sellers, ensure that they are actually violating Amazon intellectual property guidelines for copyright and trademark infringement.
Filing false or unsubstantial violations can result in removing an agent's ability to file additional infringement claims - all the way to legal action from the seller. Since many lawsuits have been made due to brands using intellectual property dispute processes as a means to control unauthorized sellers, brand protection on Amazon requires a team effort.
Listing and Brand Presentation
Security of a business’ intellectual property on Amazon is paramount. Investing time and money into creating Amazon content requires ensuring it won't get overwritten or deleted.
Some businesses are hesitant to list products directly on Amazon, so, ideally, enrollment with Brand Registry is done. Regularly monitoring listings and third-party sellers ensure your presentation on Amazon is consistent with its your style and culture.
For Amazon brand protection, it's important to remember that anyone with a Seller Central account can create a listing. If someone buys your item at Goodwill or a garage sale, they could potentially list it on Amazon - resulting in poor-quality images or health claims not approved by the FDA.
To protect yourself, creating listings yourself or, at minimum, using a tool like Listing Alerts to monitor existing listings for potential changes is a vital protection tactic. Businesses that are serious about brand protection on Amazon should always consider engaging a team of sellers to manage their listings and reputation.
The listing alerts tool will allow for better protection on Amazon, allowing businesses to gain control over pricing, product selection, and reputation.
The app allows business owners to set up email or SMS notifications that will alert them about losing the buy box, positions for their keywords, or if the product's price has been changed.
Alternatively, businesses can manually check their listings each week. This can become very costly very quickly; however, if manual checks are preferred to using a tool, it is recommended that you monitor titles, bullets, descriptions, images, structured data (quantity, fabric, age range, etc.), and changes in variation structure - all of which are essential for brand protection and intellectual property on Amazon.
Brand Registry is a solid tactic for brand protection on Amazon, designed to prevent sellers from making changes to listings. However, controlling all potential activities in the marketplace can be challenging.
For this reason, businesses should keep an updated flat file (a CSV of their Amazon listing) in case their property is tampered with. If the business' products are already on the marketplace, you can download the Category Listing Report once your product is optimized.
The Category Listing Report can be requested from Seller Central and is a valuable tactic for business owners to restore their Amazon intellectual property. The report will generate a flat file (CSV) of all data on the listing, including the back-end, structured data, and any parent-child variations set up for listings.
Only brand owner contributions will sometimes appear in the Category Listing Report. This means that if a third-party seller created the listing, brand owners might have holes in their reports.
Downloading and saving this report allows businesses to store their content just in case their listing is deleted or the content is overwritten.
False Infringement Claims
Another issue for brand protection on Amazon is false infringement claims. This occurs when a third-party seller claims that your product copied or infringed their intellectual property rights but holds no proof.
If a business receives an infringement claim, it should request documentation from the third-party seller to prove the validity of its claim. Disputing the claim should be done promptly to avoid any issues. If a business is found to have violated intellectual property rights, Amazon will require them to remove the product from their page or face potential suspension of their account.
Listing sabotage is when a third-party seller changes to the content on the listing without permission. This can include changing images, manipulating descriptions, and adding false information to the listing.
Again, the best way to protect against this type of sabotage is to set up Listing Alerts for the business’ listings. The alert will notify you if a change is made to the listing. This allows brands to take necessary action and dispute the unauthorized changes made - adding an additional tool for more efficient and safeguarded brand protection on Amazon's marketplace.
Fake Amazon Reviews
Sometimes, malicious sellers will engage in fake reviews of their competitor's products. This can include leaving negative reviews or creating false accounts to leave positive reviews.
The best way to protect against this type of attack is by engaging in Amazon’s Brand Protection Alerts. This feature allows businesses to be notified when new reviews appear on their product listing and also provides a method for reporting deceptive reviews.
There are also methods to remove nefarious reviews from Amazon, such as asking Amazon to remove it if it breaks their review guidelines. Of course, Amazon reserves the right to decline requests for removal if the review meets their criteria - in which case, you may want to use a tool from an Amazon feedback software company that will assist you in preventing negative reviews from appearing on your products.
Why Amazon Brand Protection Is Important
From sabotage to fake reviews, Amazon brand protection is an essential tactic for businesses to use to protect their intellectual property and products.
Having a team dedicated to monitoring your products on the platform will help you avoid potential issues before they arise and provide an extra layer of security for your account. This type of protection allows you to have more protection from counterfeits and fakes and provides the opportunity for better product management.
Brand protection on Amazon is an essential tool that helps maintain integrity, protect intellectual property, and increase customer trust - all of which are essential to succeed as a seller on the platform. You do not have to face threats and counterfeits alone, as Amazon provides various tools to ensure your property is secure.
Best Ways to Protect Your Brand on Amazon
From best practices with Brand Registry to actively monitoring your listings for potential issues, there are several steps businesses can take to best protect themselves on Amazon. Let's take a look at some of the best methods for Amazon brand protection:
Use Brand Registry
This tool allows you to access exclusive tools, such as enhanced reporting and automated protections. You can also link multiple accounts to one storefront making it easier to manage customers and sellers.
First, you must submit your business’ name, logo, and other supporting documents to register. Once approved, you can access additional features that provide automated protections for your listings. You can also set up customized alerts to receive notifications when changes are made, or unauthorized items appear on the listing.
Controlling Unauthorized Sellers
Businesses should be aware of two terms when protecting Amazon intellectual property: hijacker and piggybacker.
A hijacker is a seller who changes a listing to fit their product or lists a similar but counterfeit product on an existing ASIN/product detail page.
A piggybacker is a third-party seller not connected to the business that lists an additional offer on an existing listing.
Many of the blogs and articles discussing brand protection on Amazon are tailored for individuals who buy generic or unbranded items from China, called "private label" items within the Amazon community.
For those sellers, brand protection on Amazon is especially important since their product is often materially the same as many other products. Since they create the product and have no other distribution than through Amazon, they need to ensure that no other sellers are selling their product on Amazon.
Suppose you have a wide distribution range outside of Amazon, including your own website. In that case, there is the potential for other legitimate resellers to have your product and sell it on Amazon. These sellers are often referred to as 3P or third-party sellers.
For businesses that are regularly dealing with counterfeit sellers, Amazon offers a program known as the Transparency program. This program requires businesses to purchase unique barcode labels for each product.
Products enrolled in the Transparency program cannot be shipped into Amazon's warehouses without this bar code, effectively eliminating any counterfeit products from being sold on the site.
The Transparency program has a relatively low adoption rate due to the associated costs. Businesses must purchase a barcode for every product they sell, including those sent to other retailers such as Walmart. Additionally, some businesses are hesitant to provide Amazon with too much visibility into their operations and supply chain.
For businesses experiencing serious intellectual property protection issues on Amazon, the Transparency program can help provide Amazon brands protection from fakes. As with any management tactic, an experienced brand or account management team must be involved to ensure the successful implementation and optimization of the program.
Identifying and Removing Counterfeit Sellers
Brand protection on Amazon doesn't have to be an arduous task. Suppose business owners suspect that the sellers on their product detail pages are selling counterfeit products. In that case, they should take the following steps:
- Take a screenshot of the seller’s store name and ID, noting that store names can be changed anytime, but sellers cannot change their seller ID number. The legal business name and address will be displayed on their storefront.
- Conduct a test buy from your own account – this is the best way to ensure that you get an authentic product.
- When the item arrives, take photos of incorrect packaging or a side-by-side comparison with an authentic product if available.
- Submit your evidence to Amazon that the product is counterfeit. You may need to report the same seller multiple times across different listings.
Suppose you are partnering with an agency or 3P seller. In that case, they should be able to help you manage brand protection on Amazon and provide additional tactics to help tackle any issues of unauthorized sellers and Amazon intellectual property protection.
If you have a temperature-sensitive product, such as food, you can also report unsafe shipments without proper dry ice or hazmat items that were sent via air shipping.
If you determine that an unauthorized seller deals with legitimate items, Amazon will not help you remove these sellers. However, businesses can still take steps to control them.
- Businesses should have clear reseller policies highlighted in sales sheets, price sheets, and reseller agreements for selling online. Even though Amazon won’t help enforce these, businesses can utilize their attorneys to ensure wholesale buyers comply with the policies.
- It is also essential for businesses to be selective when it comes to wholesale buyers. Young brands may be tempted to accept any new order they get, but they should keep an eye out, ensure that their vendors won’t violate their policies, and sell the product on Amazon.
Here are some tactics to help get Amazon brands more protection from fakes:
- Placement of very large orders – If a buyer has a 600-square-foot shop but is ordering by the pallet, they’re likely selling online.
- Heavily buying less popular SKUs – On Amazon, demand affects pricing. If businesses see a buyer purchasing heavily on SKUs not generally carried in stores or accessories and not carrying the bestsellers, this could indicate they are selling online.
- No storefront – If businesses can’t obtain a picture of the buyer’s storefront with current merchandising, or if their address shows up as a UPS store or warehouse, this could be a sign that they are selling online.
3. Keep listings clean – Sellers will often check to see if there are other sellers on a product before approaching businesses. By working only to have their own offers on their listings, they can limit the number of inquiries they get from Amazon sellers.
A Note About 3P Sellers
While there are benefits to having third-party sellers help with promotion on Amazon, businesses should do so with caution. Having too many sellers on a listing can lead to problems such as brand dilution, counterfeit merchandise, and lack of control over pricing.
Here are some additional tactics to help Amazon sellers protect their Amazon intellectual property while also keeping their Amazon accounts and listings clean:
- Limit the number of sellers on a listing – as a rule of thumb, there should be no more than two to three sellers for most products. This will ensure that businesses can keep their accounts clean and listings adequately managed.
- Obtain a plan from each seller – Each seller should provide businesses with a plan to drive additional traffic to their listings. This will ensure that they can maximize the potential of their third-party sellers.
- Utilize a team for management – Amazon sellers should have an in-house team to manage their accounts and listings. An experienced team of professionals will help them maintain brand protection on Amazon while utilizing third-party sellers' benefits.
Use Amazon Brand Gating
To provide Amazon brands more protection from fakes, Amazon has launched a new tactic called “Brand Gating.” This process is available only to business owners and requires the seller requesting access to their account to be part of the same team in charge of product management.
Once approved, all products with the seller’s name must be submitted through their team. This ensures that only authorized products will make it to the Amazon marketplace. It effectively limits the number of people accessing a seller’s products, making it easier for the team to protect their products from unauthorized sellers or counterfeit items.
Add a Logo to Personalize Your Product and Packing
Adding a logo to your product and packing gives you an extra layer of protection against Amazon Intellectual Property infringement. This tactic allows businesses to take control of their identity and ensure that other sellers do not misuse it.
Having a recognizable logo on each product or package will also make it easier for customers to identify the legitimate source of the product. It will also help protect the business from its name's potential counterfeiting or unauthorized use.
Amazon Listing Alerts
Amazon Listing Alerts is another great tactic that businesses can use to protect themselves. This feature allows sellers to receive an email notification each time changes are made or new unauthorized items appear under their listings.
For instance, sellers will be alerted if unauthorized resellers sell their products or a competitor claims ownership of the brand. This feature allows businesses to take action quickly to protect themselves from potential infringements. It also helps keep their listing organized and updated, which is essential for Amazon brand protection.
Amazon Project Zero
Amazon Project Zero is the latest tactic that businesses can use for brand protection on Amazon. This initiative combines automated protections with a team of experts to help identify and remove infringing items from the market.
The automated protections include machine learning, product serialization, and proprietary algorithms that flag suspicious listings for further review by the team of experts. Businesses can also provide feedback on listings they believe are infringing to help the team better identify counterfeit items. With this initiative, Amazon is helping businesses protect themselves from nefarious actors.
To get started with Amazon Project Zero, businesses must first apply for a brand registry account. This requires submitting documents such as the business’ name, logo, and other supporting materials to register. Once approved, businesses can access additional features that provide automated protections for their listings.
After that, businesses can use the abovementioned tactics to gain further control of their identity and protect it from possible infringements. By taking action, businesses can ensure that their brand is not misused or damaged by counterfeiters or other unauthorized sellers. With Amazon’s brand protection tools, businesses can better protect their intellectual property and maintain a positive reputation in the marketplace.
Brand protection on Amazon should not feel like an overwhelming task. Businesses can easily protect themselves from potential infringements by taking the following proactive steps and using Amazon’s brand protection tools.
- Businesses should create a strong identity with a recognizable logo and packaging to differentiate it from competitors and counterfeiters.
- They should also register with Amazon’s Brand Registry program to access additional features.
- Finally, they should take advantage of Amazon’s Listing Alerts and Project Zero initiatives and employ a dedicated team to manage their brand protection efforts on Amazon.
Businesses can protect their intellectual property and maintain a positive market reputation by taking these steps. With Amazon’s brand protection tools and a proactive approach, businesses can protect themselves from potential infringements and help ensure their success on the platform.
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