Here’s what brands need to know about Amazon’s new anti-counterfeiting initiatives: Brand Registry 2.0 and Transparency.
This post is by Leah McHugh, an ecommerce consultant for ecommerceChris.com.
In May of 2017 Amazon released Brand Registry 2.0 to much hype, and rumors around what Brand Registry 2.0 would offer for brand protection.
As with many Amazon changes, there was also a lot of misinformation, leaving many sellers confused or disappointed.
Amazon also quietly opened up their Transparency program in 2017. As early as 2016, they were beta testing this program with select sellers.
The majority of sellers, and more importantly consumers, are still not aware that this program exists, so how can it help protect your brand?
What is Brand Registry 2.0?
At its core, the purpose of Amazon’s Brand Registry is to identify brand owners to Amazon. Brand Registry 2.0 is an update and replacement of the now defunct Brand Registry 1.0 (commonly referred to as just Brand Registry).
Amazon updated this program by changing the application requirements (see below), and updating the benefits to brand owners. Whereas Brand Registry 1.0 simply gave brand owners control over their product’s listing content, and an optional exemption from their UPC requirement, Brand Registry 2.0 gives brands greater control over their listing content and also helps protect their intellectual property.
Brand Registry 2.0 DOES:
- Give the brand owner greater control over their listing content.
- Offer a separate, more efficient, internal team for fixing and escalating incorrect listing contributions, and incorrect product variations.
- Offer a dedicated internal team for submitting and escalating IP infringement claims. Refer to Amazon’s infringement page for what they will and will not enforce. Note, specifically, “Other sellers can list their items for sale against pages that you have created or added your copyrighted images to” (emphasis added).
- Provide a tool to monitor your brand on Amazon.
- Grant brand owners access to Enhanced Brand Content on their listings.
- Allow brand owners to add “agents” to their brand registry to access the above tools.
Brand Registry 2.0 does NOT:
- Gate your brand or limit other sellers from selling it.
- Allow you to whitelist/blacklist other sellers from selling your brand.
- Allow someone other than the brand owner to submit infringement claims against other sellers.
What is Transparency?
Amazon’s Transparency codes program is designed to help track inventory all the way from manufacturer to end user. Its goal is to help distinguish authentic items from counterfeit items, as well as track when and where an item was made.
When you enroll in the Transparency program, Amazon assigns a unique 2D barcode to each individual unit of inventory, giving it a traceable serial number. When scanned, this shows product details such as when and where the product was made, expiration date, origin for each material it is made of, related product recommendations, and methods to register products for warranty purposes.
Amazon will scan Transparency codes to verify authenticity when receiving items. The codes can also be used throughout your off-Amazon supply chain, and by consumers, to verify authenticity.
This program is free for the first 6 months, then will cost between 1-5 cents per code.
Who can enroll in Brand Registry 2.0?
Simply put, brand owners who have registered their intellectual property.
Currently, brands must have a registered trademark to be eligible to join the Brand Registry. The eligibility requirements say that the trademark must “be in the form of a text-based mark or an image-based mark with words, letters, or numbers”.
To enroll in Brand Registry 2.0 you’ll need to show the following documentation:
A live registered trademark that matches the brand name printed on products and/or packaging. The trademark must meet the following criteria:
- It must be text-based or image-based with words, letters, or numbers. That means for trademarks registered in the U.S., the type must be one of the following:
- “standard character mark” (USPTO class 4),
- “typeset word(s)/letter(s)/number(s)” (USPTO class 1),
- “illustration drawing which includes words, letters, and/or numbers” (USPTO class 3), or
- “words, letters, or numbers in a stylized form” (USPTO class 5)
- The trademark must match the brand name printed on products and/or packaging.
- Currently, only trademarks issued in these countries will be accepted: United States, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, India, Australia, Japan, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the European Union
You’ll also need to provide:
- Images of the brand’s logo.
- Images of products and packaging that carry the trademarked brand name. If the product is not branded, the packaging must be branded.
- A list of product categories (e.g., apparel, sporting goods, electronics) in which the brand should be listed.
- A list of countries where the brand’s products are manufactured and distributed.
Note: If you were enrolled in the old brand registry, that program has now defunct, and you are not grandfathered in to 2.0. You will need to reapply as above.
Who can enroll in Transparency?
The Transparency program is currently by invitation only.
However, I do know sellers that requested information from their account manager, and were offered entry into the beta. So it doesn’t hurt to ask if you’re interested. You can also contact Amazon directly about the Transparency program.
Should you enroll in Brand Registry 2.0?
If you’re a brand owner, and you have an eligible trademark, you should definitely register in Brand Registry 2.0.
It’s a free program that offers greater protection of your brand and Amazon listings, and grants you access to Enhanced Brand Content.
If you’re a brand owner, and you don’t have an eligible trademark, now is a great time to start protecting your intellectual property. And then enroll in Brand Registry 2.0.
If you’re not a brand owner, but work directly with a brand owner, consider asking them to enroll in Brand Registry and adding you as an agent, so you can gain access to the tools.
Should you enroll in Transparency?
With the Transparency program still in the early stages, it may not be suitable for all brand owners.
You might consider Transparency if one of more of the following apply to you:
- You have had counterfeit issues in the past.
- You intend to use the program to better track your supply chain.
- You have the logistical (and financial) capabilities to apply Transparency labels to your products.
- You’re willing to pay Amazon for the codes after the first six months of free usage.
Brand Registry 2.0 and Transparency, in their current form, are tools for protecting your brand by enforcing infringement claims, and identifying authenticity.
Keep in mind that neither Brand Registry 2.0 nor Transparency are a means to:
- Remove unauthorized sellers
- Enforce MAP
- Stem gray-market items
Those are distribution rather than authenticity issues, and brands are on their own when it comes to controlling who sells their products, where they sell them, and at what price.
This post was written by Leah McHugh, an ecommerce consultant for ecommerceChris.com. For Amazon sellers, having their merchant account suspended means losing time and money trying to get back in business. ecommerceChris shows sellers how to keep their accounts healthy, or, if the worst should happen, how to get their account back from a suspension.