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Your Intellectual Property and Amazon

Sep 27, 2018 2:14:35 PM

Think about the last time you went shopping on Amazon. How many different results came up when you ran a search for a specific brand or product name? As a consumer, can you tell right off the bat which ones are knockoffs and which ones are the real things? This is where intellectual property laws and e-commerce comes to a head.

If your brand is selling on Amazon, there are a few ways that IP applies to your products and your listings. Currently, Amazon puts the responsibility of IP compliance on the shoulders of sellers, saying that it’s the sellers who should ensure they are selling products legally and within the boundaries of IP laws. IP rights help protect sellers and brands from counterfeits and knock-off items. In legal terms, there are four main types of IP rights: copyright, trademark, utility patent, and design patent. As the Amazon marketplace becomes more of a ‘wild west’ of sellers and items, having control over your brand’s IP can ensure you stay afloat and successful in the long run.

To get a better understanding of how IP cases can unfold, here are a few claims one brand, Milo & Gabby, brought against Amazon in 2013:

Copyright infringement: there were copyrighted marketing photos used to promote fake Milo & Gabby products on Amazon.

Trademark infringement: the Milo & Gabby name was used to sell knockoff items, but because Amazon was not the seller Amazon was not found guilty of trademark infringement.   

Design patent infringement: design patents, unlike utility patents, deal with non-functional, purely ornamental product designs, which the counterfeit products infringed upon.

While IP rights are extremely important, protecting your brand on Amazon against malicious sellers is possible, if you have the right safeguards in place.

How to protect your IP on Amazon

Luckily, although there are plenty of ways your brand IP can be at risk on Amazon, there are also some easy ways to protect against IP infringement:

Amazon brand registry

A great first step to protect your brand online is with the Amazon Brand Registry. Brands with a registered trademark and that are part of Seller Central can join the Amazon Brand Registry, which automatically adds another layer of protection to your brand presence. Anytime a consumer searches for a specific brand name, counterfeit and knock-off search results are automatically weeded out. Additionally, if you’re part of the Brand Registry you will have access to Amazon Stores, Headline Search Ads, and other exclusive marketing opportunities on the platform.

Single seller relationships

Another way to protect your brand against IP risk is by entering into a single seller partnership. Even if you have other safeguards in place, such as the Brand Registry or a MAP policy, multiple sellers can go around these regulations and increase risk. While your brand might have a strong message and an established consumer-facing image, random sellers on Amazon (including Amazon itself) can manipulate any aspect of your product listings, from images to headlines to variations, without notifying you, the brand. With a single seller, your brand doesn’t have to worry about whether or not your products are at risk for IP infringement on Amazon. You can rest easy knowing your single seller partner is dedicated to increasing sales and protecting your brand.      

Dedicated listing monitoring

Like most online content repositories, Amazon is constantly changing and growing to meet the needs of its customers. This means that the products sold on the platform must keep up with these changes as well. For brands looking to protect IP and negate any type of risk potential of their products, their listings and brand presence must be consistently monitored and tracked. To truly keep on top of Amazon changes, look for a consultative partner that can help keep your listings compliant, optimized, and targeted to the right audience. Plus, with a dedicated partner scanning the web for any malicious listings or possible counterfeits, you can identify IP infringement faster than ever before.

Stay on top of IP risk with SupplyKick

We’re helping dozens of brands track, manage, and protect intellectual property rights on Amazon against sellers that manipulate and change product listing content. The SupplyKick team is constantly monitoring content to ensure the right message is being shared with the right people at the right time. We also help brands update listing content to stay on top of new trends and keyword best practices. See how SupplyKick can help your brand protect its IP rights on Amazon – request your personalized consultation today!

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