Let’s talk about trademarks. If you’re selling on Amazon UK, or if you hope to start selling in the near future and are currently in the planning stage, you need to understand WHY getting a trademark for your brand is so important and WHEN is the best time to do it.
First of all, why have trademarks become so important for Amazon FBA sellers? The reason is very simple: you can only get into Amazon’s Brand Registry when you have a REGISTERED trademark.
The Brand Registry opens up additional seller tools, such as:
- Dedicated 24/7 support on IP infringement cases
- A+ content
- Amazon stores
- Sponsored Brand ads
- Amazon Early Reviewer program
- Brand analytics
- And more!
It’s obvious that sellers who are part of Amazon’s Brand Registry have a MASSIVE advantage over sellers who are not. Take the A+ content as an example. It allows you to create visually rich product descriptions by putting images and other visuals directly into your product description.
On mobile devices, these listings look even better because A+ content is shown by default directly on the listing page, whereas you have to click an additional button to access “normal” descriptions (which often look too plain and boring for buyers to read).
Not many sellers are utilizing Amazon stores correctly, but if you do, your brand on Amazon will have a dedicated shop that looks professional. You can even upload additional content, including VIDEOS! You can also create content-rich landing pages, which are perfect for advertising outside of Amazon’s PPC system. You don’t even need to pay for a landing page builder because Amazon provides it to all store owners for FREE!
Sponsored Brand ads are another way to get ahead in the PPC game. I have found great success by advertising product groups this way, and Amazon allows you to send this traffic to your store pages or product listing pages. Again, if you put some time and effort into creating high-converting landing pages, you will get very good results from this advertising feature.
Very recently, Amazon UK introduced their Early Reviewer program. For a £60 fee, Amazon will help you get your first five reviews much faster by reaching out to customers on your behalf and encouraging them to leave a review. This is a very powerful option as it’s getting harder and harder to get buyers to leave reviews. This highly beneficial feature is only available to Amazon Brand Registry members.
There’s more I could talk about, but you get the point. If you’re serious about your Amazon FBA business, you need to get into the Brand Registry, no question about it. And for that, you will need a registered trademark.
Now, people often ask me: when is the right time to register a trademark?
Let’s find out!
BEST Time to Register
If the trademark registration process only took a few days, we wouldn’t even be discussing it. But the reality is, it can take up to three months to register a trademark in the UK. Sounds awfully long, right? It’s not. Especially when you consider that the same process in the US takes a minimum of nine months and costs a lot more, as I covered in my US trademark registration saga article here.
However, three months is still a long time. Even though your application is submitted to the trademark journal within two to three weeks of your application, there’s still a two-month opposition period, during which your trademark registration can be opposed. Remember, Amazon does not accept trademarks that are still in this opposition period.
A trademark needs to be REGISTERED to qualify for Amazon’s Brand Registry. So, you have to accept that it will take three months from beginning to end, and that is only if everything goes to plan and no one opposes your registration. For the purpose of this article, let’s assume that everything goes smoothly, as this post is more about the timing of the process than getting the trademark itself registered.
So, in an ideal world, you come up with your brand name, register a domain name, create your logo design, submit your trademark application, wait three months for it to be approved and then proceed with sourcing goods.
This is the way it should be done because you will know for certain that your trademark is registered and there won’t be any more changes.
The downside, obviously, is that you have to wait three months, which is a long time!!!
Can you speed up this process in any way? Are there any shortcuts? Can you start selling on Amazon while waiting for trademark registration to come through?
The RISKY Way
If you’re willing to take some risk, you can simply proceed with your product sourcing and even start selling the product while your trademark is still in the two-month opposition stage.
The risk here is that if someone opposes your trademark and you have to drop the trademark registration, you end up with a “broken” business!
You’ll be stuck with a name you can’t use and products manufactured with a brand name/logo/packaging that you can’t sell. A TOTAL FAILURE!
The KEY here is to correctly assess your chances of successful registration BEFORE you do it. By that, I mean you need to do thorough and extensive research online. Use Google and use the IPO’s trademark search tool to see if there are any similar trademarks already registered. If there are, then obviously your chances of getting opposed are much higher.
If your brand name is totally unique (for example, a made-up name that is 100% new), your chances of opposition are very, very low. Even if someone does oppose your trademark, chances are you’ll have a strong case against them and they won’t be able to stop your registration process.
Doing these online searches before you settle on the brand name is a CRUCIAL step. Ideally, of course, you would contact a trademark solicitor and have them do a professional consultation and proper searches, but that will cost you a lot of money. It could be hundreds or even thousands of pounds, depending on the solicitor you choose.
Yes, there are trademark search gigs on Fiverr.com for £10 to £30, but they’re most likely NOT carried out by a qualified trademark solicitor. They’re just regular people who know a bit more about trademarks than the average person. They probably just do a quick Google search and IPO database search, but how well can they evaluate the possibility of similar trademark holders opposing you? Hard to say….
If you’re willing to pay some money for that extra peace of mind, I would recommend you go with the Right Start service offered directly by the IPO.
It costs just £30 more than the normal registration, but an IPO solicitor will evaluate your application and provide advice on whether or not it’s safe to proceed with the registration. These people have seen thousands of trademarks and have the experience to spot problem registrations, so it is
So, yes, you can make progress with your business while waiting out those three months. You just have to accept that there is a risk that things can go wrong.
Also, you have probably noticed that logos often have two symbols next to them:
What do they mean?
The first one, ®, is used when your trademark is officially registered. This would be after the two-month opposition period has successfully passed and your trademark is registered.
The ™ symbol means that your trademark has been published in the journal but hasn’t been registered yet.
So, if you’re proceeding with your business without waiting for the registered trademark to come through, you should use the ™ symbol next to your logo. This would also apply to any Amazon visuals, as well as the product itself and/or packaging.
Only when the trademark is registered should you start using the ® symbol!
The biggest problem people have is with the order of using these symbols. Which logo should you put on the product and packaging? The ® or ™? Well, you definitely can’t use ® yet, as your trademark has not officially been registered. You can use ™ or you can opt not to use any symbol at all—that’s fine, too!
My advice is to create both sets of graphics when you work with your designer. Ask for logo files that have the ® symbol as well as separate files that have the ™ symbol. The same goes for packaging designs. Get two or even three versions, even if you decide to not use any symbols at all in the beginning. For the designer, it takes just a few minutes to create these additional files, so it shouldn’t cost you anything extra.
And that’s about it! I have covered two scenarios of trademark registration for Amazon FBA sellers. Both can be used, but you have to understand their differences and consequences.
Personally, I have always started my businesses without waiting for the trademark to officially go through, but then again, I’m more experienced with the research process, have had a few opposition cases under my belt, etc. If you’re someone who is new to all of this, maybe you don’t want to take that extra risk. If you are willing to take the risk, at least pay that extra £30 to get the Right Start service from the IPO.
There will also be some of you who prefer to take things slowly. For you, three months might be the time it takes to research suppliers, order samples, do modifications, etc., until you settle on the final supplier and product. If that’s your situation, great! You won’t have to risk anything and you’ll be able to properly brand your first order with an officially registered trademark.
Another scenario could be that you have researched suppliers, settled on the final product, etc., but there are still two weeks left before your opposition period ends. In a case like this, I would strongly recommend you wait it out and get the verdict. Two weeks is nothing. It won’t change anything, and you can move ahead 100% sure that your trademark is sorted out.
There is an alternative, of course. You can choose to forget about trademarks altogether, don’t join Amazon’s Brand Registry and simply sell your product in the standard way without all the additional tools. Is it recommended? No. But the majority of sellers on Amazon still do this and it works out just fine for many of them.
In the long term, though, you should register your trademark anyway. As the years go by, more and more sellers on Amazon will become Brand Registered and your listings will inevitably become less and less competitive. You also won’t have access to the valuable selling tools I listed earlier, and I’m sure there will be more added to these in the future!
Even if you have been selling on Amazon for five years already, you can still register your trademark and get access to all of these benefits. It’s never too late. Go to the IPO website and put in your application! It takes less than twenty minutes and you don’t need any legal help to fill it out—it’s a very straightforward process!
I hope this helps somehow, especially if you’re new to the whole Amazon FBA game. If you need any clarifications or want to ask a question, feel free to leave your comment below the post. I will personally answer all queries within 24 hours, Mon-Fri.