You’re living the private label seller’s dream. You’ve found a great product, tweaked the design to make it yours, found the perfect supplier, and inspected every item before sending it in to the Amazon Warehouse. In short, you put in a lot of effort to make sure your product was perfect, and the customers are now beginning to reward you with five star reviews and repeat purchases.
Business is going great, until one day you lose the Buy Box. How did this happen? Who is this other seller? Why are they selling your product? The short answer, is that your listing has now been hijacked. The long answer, is that if you did not take preliminary steps to protect your listing before you began selling your product, it may be too late.
The Time to Prevent Hijackers is Before Want to Remove Them
Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of focusing so much on getting their short-term numbers up that they forget to think about long-term growth. I get it, because as someone who paid for Law School by selling on Amazon, I was in your shoes. I also felt the same frustrations when I was competing for the Buy Box against people who should not have been selling the product in the first place. I knew there had to be a solution, so I began researching ways to get hijackers off of listings.
Start with a Good Foundation: Trademark Protection is Essential
The basis to protecting your listing is to start with a good legal foundation. This m ans obtaining trademarks on your company name, as well as any product names you think will be important to protect. There’s a reason why only Apple® sells the iPhone®. That’s because Apple, Inc. owns the trademark rights to both the words Apple and iPhone. If you want to be able to enforce your listing, having at least your company name trademarked is the absolute bare minimum. Many people will say you can trademark things yourself, and if you have a good understanding of trademark law the United States Patent and Trademark Office has resources to help you obtain a trademark. However, if you work a trademark attorney who is experienced in obtaining federal trademarks, it is well worth the investment for the future protection of your business. This is one area for your business you just don’t want to pinch pennies on.
Next Step: Show the World You Have a Trademark, and Use it On Your Listing
Did you know that there is actually an important difference between using the symbol ™ and the symbol ®? Only federally registered trademarks (and service marks, but more on those in a bit) can use the ® symbol, while any company can use the ™ symbol even without getting a federal trademark registration. However, if you don’t have a federal trademark registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, you cannot use the ® or obtain any of the benefits and rights associated with having a registered trademark.
Once you have successfully obtained a Federal Trademark Registration, it is important that you update your logos and materials with the ® to “show the world” that you have a federally-registered trademark. If you can update your product packaging or product itself to show the trademark, that will be even better.
I’ve got my trademark, now what?
Now that you have your trademark, you should register for Amazon Brand Registry. To learn more about Amazon Brand Registry and how to sign up for it, view my blog post on the Amazon Brand Registry.
Now, how can I come up with a legal means of preventing my listing from being hijacked?
Now that you have completed the most important step to preventing your listing from being hijacked, there are some more steps you can take to establish a strong offense to use against listing hijackers. This includes implementing a warranty policy, creating an authorized reseller policy, and taking a strong legal approach whenever someone infringes on your listing. Read my blog post “I’ve got my trademark, now what? Preventing Amazon Listing Hijackers using Trademark Law”.
Onward and upward!