On the list of additions to our lives that the online world has given us - more accessible knowledge, more educational options, faster communications et al - many of us would rank one quite highly. Next day delivery. These magical words grant us freedom from the shackles of physical locations and in-store availability. Whatever we want, we can have it....tomorrow!
But (there always seems to be a 'but'!) how do we know that the coveted product we ordered is the real deal? While much hilarity has ensued from people sharing their experiences of expectation versus reality in online shopping, it needs to be borne in mind that ultimately, they did not receive what they paid for. In some instances, that can be attributed to the selection of a wrong size or not reading the small print regarding measurements. In others, it is more sinister than that.Counterfeit products are big business and it's a growing issue for consumers. Amongst the giants offering online retail, Amazon would have to be considered as being at the top of the list. They offer their own selection of products along with providing commercial and personal sellers with the opportunity to offer their wares to the world. It is difficult to describe exactly the size and scope of their marketplace as it seems to grow by the minute. One examination of the electronics category only provides a figure of 35,684,660 products available on 11th April 2017.
Amazon have taken steps to attempt to combat the common practice of misrepresenting products sold and ensure that the purchaser receives exactly the product that they thought they were buying (buyer's remorse sold separately). They have developed a Brand Registry within which genuine companies can identify their own brand and claim it as their own. This also provides a mechanism through which brand owners and those not registered can report infringement that occurs through the Amazon website.
Crucial to this offering though, is the fact that brand owners must be able to demonstrate ownership of their brand and so eligibility for the registry requires a valid trademark registration in a limited number of countries - United States, Canada, Mexico, India, Japan, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK and the EU. Their information page suggests that more countries may be added to the list in the future. Trademark rights are territorial in nature and some sellers may find themselves seeking trademark registration in regions that they had not previously considered to assist in the prevention of their products being targeted by counterfeiters.
There are limits to the kind of trademark that can be protected by Amazon's Brand Registry and some countries that are more challenging to obtain trademark registration in than others. From an international perspective, the United States issues the largest number of first office actions and refusals and is a popular destination for those seeking to sell products online. For those who now find themselves navigating the trademark registration system provided by the USPTO for the first time or who have experienced issues in the past, our free webinar hosted by seasoned experts can provide invaluable guidance to sellers seeking eligibility for the Brand Registry.