Today, I want to share my story of how I wasted 7 months and hundreds of pounds on registering a trademark for Amazon’s Brand Registry, which, at the end of the day, turned out to be totally useless! This story just shows how fast everything changes and that you can never rely on old information when it comes to things like this. Without further ado, let’s get started!
Brand Registry Overview
For people who are new to Amazon selling or even for active sellers who are still not using Amazon’s Brand Registry, I highly recommend you sign up! It’s the quickest and easiest way to protect your brand, enhance your listings and unlock additional features in your Seller Central account.
Brand Registry is a place/service where Amazon allows genuine brand owners to register their brands.
After the registration process is complete, you get benefits like:
- Protect your brand from being used in other listings, act on copied products, help with finding potential infringement, copied images, logo and other elements.
- Gives you the option to use Amazon Stores. (Awesome!)
- Gives you the option to use Enhanced Listing descriptions. (Awesome!)
- Gives you the option to use Headline Search ads. (Awesome!)
So far, I have not personally had any experience with the brand protection side of things (hopefully, I will never have to do that), so I can’t comment on that. BUT for me, as a seller who creates amazing brands and wants to showcase my products in the best possible way, the most important and immediate benefit of being part of the Brand Registry is the ability to use Enhanced Listing descriptions (or Enhanced Brand Content Detail Pages, as Amazon calls them).
What are they and why are they so important?
By default, when you’re NOT registered with the Brand Registry, you can only use a very basic version of the listing description editor—it’s just plain text! However, with the help of an online HTML editor, you can add some simple HTML tags to it (bold, bullet points, etc.) but that’s about it. Your product descriptions will still be just plain text, which very few people will actually read. Here’s how it looks on Amazon:
Now, when you get into the Brand Registry, Amazon gives you the ability to use their Enhanced Brand Content tool to create VISUALLY RICH descriptions!
This includes creating your very own layout from predefined blocks, like this:
From this point, you can add your logo, product images, lifestyle images, reviews, text, headlines, sub-headlines and so on to create a MUCH MORE appealing listing description!
Something like this:
It gets even better when you look at listings in the mobile view! As we already know, at the moment, more than 50% of purchases are being made from mobile devices, and that’s actually an old statistic. In reality, it could easily be more than 60% by now!
When you have a normal text description for a listing, it shows an excerpt of that description when viewed on a mobile device. Then, you have to click through to read the full description, like this:
I hope you agree that it does not look very appealing at all.
But now, take a look at how an Enhanced Brand Content listing looks on a mobile device:
Massive, MASSIVE difference!!!
The product images are there, company logo is there, fully formatted text is there! All on the default/first page! No need to click anywhere or expand the screen to see this! All the information is easily accessible at a glance, which what buyers want!
You don’t have to be very smart to realise that these image-rich listings will convert much BETTER compared to ones with standard, plain-text-only descriptions. In my opinion, this feature alone is well worth going through the registration process to get into Amazon’s Brand Registry.
And then there’s the Amazon Stores feature that is unlocked with your Brand Registry account! Amazon Stores simply allow you to create your very own shop on Amazon’s platform where you can list your products and create category pages like an About Us, FAQ and other information pages! It’s basically like having your own small e-commerce shop built right into the Amazon ecosystem.
And what I like most about Amazon Stores is that it is SUPER EASY to use!!! You don’t need any templates for this. There’s no need to code anything or even use any HTML formatting! Amazon provides easy-to-use, premade layout blocks, content blocks and templates so we, as brand owners, can quickly create professional, well-designed shops! This is just another instance of Amazon really putting effort into creating a tool that HELPS sellers succeed. It is very intuitive and easy to use, unlike the solutions I saw in my eBay selling days…
There’s even an option to add a VIDEO to your store pages! Yes, this is where you can put REAL videos about your products or company to add even more credibility or to educate your customers on the product, how to use it, how to assemble it, etc. VERY HANDY, if you ask me!
Lastly, when people click on your BRAND NAME in your listings, they will be directed to your Amazon Store, not the general search results. This significantly increases your chances of getting even more sales from each customer.
The third important feature of Brand Registry is Headline Search ads. This is an extension of normal Sponsored Product ads and allows us to create additional ads that appear above the search results and in various other placements throughout Amazon:
These ads do not get as many clicks as normal Sponsored Product ads, BUT they are quite cheap, and I do get a good ROI from them, as shown in my latest sales update posts.
That was a quick overview of the benefits of Brand Registry for sellers. You can see the full information and read through the FAQs for Brand Registry on this page:
I highly recommend that you register as soon as possible to gain all these advantages and stand out from your competitors while protecting your main long-term asset—the BRAND itself!
Ok, that sounds all good and rosy, Andrew, but where’s the story? How did you waste more than half a year and $805 on this process?
Let’s find out!
How to Properly Apply for Brand Registry on the Amazon US platform!
So, the story is mostly about the Amazon US website. Readers who have been following my blog for a while will know that I launched my brand on Amazon UK in Autumn 2017. Of course, I immediately registered for Brand Registry on the Amazon UK website. That all went through with no hiccups and I was able to use the Brand Registry advantages pretty much from day one of selling.
Back then I knew that I would eventually want to expand (or at least try to expand) this brand on the Amazon.com (US) website too. With this in mind, I started to look into what I need to get done before the launch ahead of time. Brand Registry was obviously on the priority list as I knew how important it was and what a difference it can make to sales and conversion rates—especially when you’re just starting out and don’t have any reviews for your products.
At that time, I checked the rules on applying for the Brand Registry on the US site and saw that it was essentially the same as the UK. The only difference was that the trademark MUST be registered in the US, Canada or Mexico (Three North-American platform countries) and that they wouldn’t accept my UK trademark.
Yes, speaking of the trademark, you do need a REGISTERED trademark to apply for Amazon’s Brand Registry! It’s not enough that you have applied for a trademark. That won’t work. It must be already REGISTERED in the trademark database to be valid. And there’s one more very important thing regarding trademarks that I will show you in just a minute.
Anyway, back to my story. I thought, “ok, no probs! It’s sort of a good idea anyway to have a trademark registered in the US to protect my brand, so let’s do this!”
I have registered many trademarks in the UK on my own using the IPO website. It’s a very easy and straightforward process that pretty much ANYONE can do! The price is just £170 and the whole process takes about three months to complete:
- 1-2 weeks after registration, the IPO reviews your application. If everything is ok, they publish it in the trademark journal.
- 2 months is the opposition period when anyone can oppose your registration.
- 1-2 weeks after the opposition period ends, your trademark gets official registration.
So, overall, it’s 2.5-3 months from application to official registration. If you have a good, unique brand name with little chance of opposition, it should go through very smoothly.
However, the situation in the US is very different. Let’s start with their website, USPTO, which is much more complicated than our UK equivalent! The registration forms are very long and packed with legal mumbo-jumbo! It almost seems like they have done this on purpose to support the multi-billion-dollar attorney business. But, who knows…
Additionally, the timeframe for the whole process is MUCH LONGER than here in the UK! It can take anywhere from 8-9 months to up to a year for the whole trademark registration process to be completed, which is insane!
And it’s not a case that their opposition period is longer. In fact, it’s actually SHORTER!!! Your trademark takes just 30 DAYS from the date your trademark application gets published in the journal. It’s the many, many idle months before it gets to that point that makes this process so lengthy. Essentially, your application sits for months on someone’s desk until it finally gets reviewed and published.
I’m sure you can do it on your own in the US too, if you learn the ins and outs, read the small print, fill out all the forms, etc. But that’s only IF you have the time and inclination to do it on your own! I don’t. I simply don’t have time for that, nor do I want or need to learn how trademark law works in the US. It’s completely unnecessary.
So, what do you do? You outsource!
I’m very happy to pay someone who is GOOD and who will save me time (and most likely money too) to make sure that the trademark registration in the US goes smoothly.
I did a quick online search (well, I searched for a few hours as I wanted to find a good and affordable service for this with a perfect reputation) and found a reasonably priced and popular trademark registration website called Trademarkia.com.
They also offer various other trademark-related services, such as monitoring, dealing with oppositions, international trademark registrations, and so on. But for now, I was simply interested in getting my trademark registered in the US for Amazon’s Brand Registry purposes.
In addition to the $199 that Trademarkia charges for their service, there’s a government fee, just like in the UK, for registering your trademark. It was an additional cost of $275, which I would have had to pay anyway, of course, even when doing the whole process on my own.
So, altogether, it’s $199 + $275 = $474 to register a US trademark in one class using the Trademarkia service.
I placed the order via their website and the next day I received a form that I needed to fill out, which was pretty short and very easy to do. Then I basically just waited for further instructions from Trademarkia.
I started the registration process on 24th August, 2017 (just for the record)
Several months go by and I get an email from Trademarkia saying that there’s a problem with my application. The problem was outlined by the USPTO, and it turned out to be an issue around the products I had listed in my goods list. I did use a pretty large list of goods, but it was the same list I used for the UK registration and that went through just fine. In the US, however, they look at this a little differently, so I had to change the list to get my trademark registered in the journal for the opposition period to start.
Keep in mind that this was early January, so four months had passed since I started my registration. This means that for four months nothing actually happened with my application. No one had even looked at my registration at the USPTO up until this point!
The Trademarkia attorney explained to me what this was all about and offered two ways to fix this problem:
- I can fill out forms and amend the goods listed in my application;
- Trademarkia will take care of it for $389.
The change was minuscule. I basically just needed to change a few words, so I decided to do it on my own. Then I saw the forms I needed to fill out and quickly changed my mind. Again, it seems like the USPTO simply creates these forms so that trademark attorneys can charge us $389 for a 10-minute task.
That’s just how they work, attorneys/lawyers, what can you do…
Still, $389 seemed way too much for this simple task, so I asked for a discount and got it down to $331. It was still a lot of money, but I didn’t want to further delay the process, so I paid the money and they took care of it.
Lesson to learn: If you want to minimise the chances of your application getting rejected, list as few products as possible. You even can list just one, whether it’s your main product OR even not your main product—it really doesn’t matter in terms of Amazon’s Brand Registry. All they care about is that you have that trademark registered. Amazon won’t look into the goods you have listed in your trademark, not even the classes.
Of course, a more extensive goods list, and maybe even additional goods classes, will help protect your brand even further outside the scope of Amazon. So, if you have huge plans for this brand in the future, do what you have to do and list all those products in the goods list. Just be aware that this can create potential problems and also increases your chances of getting your application opposed by other brand owners.
On the 27th of February, my trademark application was published in the journal. A month later, it went LIVE! No oppositions, so I was very happy about that!
So, to sum it up, the total cost of this process was:
- USPTO fee – $275
- Trademarkia.com fee for application – $199
- Trademarkia.com fee for making changes in the goods list – $331
I started the process on the 24th of August of 2017 and my trademark went live at the end of March 2018, so it took a total of seven months, which, by the way, is VERY QUICK for a US registration! I have heard stories of it taking a year and even more in some cases! Maybe I got lucky, but the timeframe was not that bad.
Ok, so far so good, right? I mean, I got the trademark registered in the US for $805 (though it could have been just $474 if not for that small change) in just seven months. Seems pretty good?
Well, sort of! 🙂
I’m happy that I have that US trademark registered BUT it turns out that I did not actually need it….
How to use a UK Trademark for the Amazon US Brand Registry!
Yes, you read that right! By the time I finished my US trademark application, Amazon had changed the rules and was now accepting UK trademarks on the US site too. What a bummer, LOL!!!
But I’m not mad at them. I was actually wondering before this why they wouldn’t accept a UK trademark in the US Brand Registry? Even though a UK trademark has no legal standing in the US (well, it has some but that’s not the point), I think for small businesses, it’s good enough to get into the Brand Registry.
Amazon realised this and fixed the problem!
Now you can basically use ANY trademark registration to register for the Brand Registry on ANY Amazon website. Here’s the full list:
And that’s not all! You DON’T HAVE to go through the registration process again on the US website if you have already registered for Brand Registry in the UK! Yes, you simply need to add a USER to your Brand Registry UK account. Just add that US seller account as a USER and it will be enrolled in the US Brand Registry.
Right now (May 2018), there’s no way to automatically do this, so you simply get in touch with Brand Registry support (not the main Seller Central support) and ask them to add an additional user to your account and give them your Amazon.com seller email address. They will happily assist you and explain what you need to do next.
To sum it up, if you have a UK or European trademark already registered, you don’t need to register a US trademark to get into the Brand Registry on the Amazon.com website.
Also, if you are already registered in the Brand Registry on the UK website, you don’t have to go through the process again on the US website. Just add your US seller account as a USER to your current Brand Registry account in the UK.
I really hope this is clear and will help people to avoid unnecessary fees and time wasted on registrations you don’t actually need.
And wait, there’s more! I saved the best bit for the end…
Word Mark VS Design Mark
In general, there are two types of trademarks:
- Word (Text) mark: this is when you register your brand name as a piece of text. Say your brand name is “Andrew Minalto”, it can then be used in various visual ways, logos, etc.
- Design (Logo) mark: this is when you register your brand’s logo as a trademark and, if registered, that logo is protected. If you change your logo, for example, then you need to go through the trademark registration process again.
As you can see, the word mark is stronger (legally) as it protects the name/word itself, not just the logo. However, there’s a big downside for word marks: you stand a much higher chance of someone opposing your trademark during the registration process.
What is OPPOSING? When your trademark application gets published in the trademark journal, it goes through a two-month (UK) or one-month (US) opposition period when other brand owners can oppose your registration. They could have a similar logo or name to yours and they can oppose your registration, which basically means they can create an EXPENSIVE legal hassle, but let’s not go into detail on that right now.
Sometimes they don’t even have much similarity to your brand name. For example, with my recent UK registration. Often, it’s just large brands with massive legal budgets who want to protect their brands, so they will oppose your registration even if you’re not an actual threat to them.
Anyway, when you register a design/logo trademark, you’re essentially asking for lower protection and this DECREASES your chances of getting opposed. Similarly, the fewer classes and goods you have listed, the lower the chance that someone will oppose your registration.
When Amazon launched their Brand Registry service in 2017, the only trademark type that they accepted was a word mark. Again, I don’t know why they thought it was a good idea, as most small business owners I know have logo trademarks registered. Even I had to register multiple word trademarks for brands I already had registered with logo trademarks. It didn’t really make any sense.
The good news is that now Amazon accepts both word and design trademarks for the Brand Registry! The only thing they ask is that the design marks have your brand name in the design, as a text. So, you can’t use just a graphical design mark with no brand name mentioned in it:
Most of you will have logos with your brand name in them, so this is not a problem.
And if you are new to the game and plan to register your first trademark soon, consider registering the design/logo trademark instead of the word mark! The cost and process are exactly the same but, as I have already explained, the risk of getting your registration opposed with the word mark is much higher.
In future, if your business grows and you feel that you want to protect your brand name as a word mark, you can always register it separately.
Ok, that’s about it for today. I really hope this helps!
If you have any questions about the information I have covered in this post, please leave them below in comment box! Or maybe you have a story to share with us? I’m always happy to hear from my blog readers and help if possible with advice!