Hijacked Amazon Listing

How to Prevent Hijacked Amazon Product Listings

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You have spent months researching products to sell on Amazon. Speaking to factories, you’ve finally come up with a product to sell which has been manufactured with your logo, you’ve created a great looking Amazon listing and it’s starting to sell well and you’ve got great reviews.

One day you suddenly find that your sales have plummeted dramatically. You check your listing and find to your shock horror that someone has hijacked your listing and is also selling your product and now has the Buy Box. You ask yourself how is this even possible especially as you’ve trademarked your logo.

Having your listing hijacked by someone else is enormously frustrating. Not only will it impact your sales, it can also affect your brand and reputation if they are selling low quality copies of your product. Customers may also post negative product reviews on your actual listing, putting off potential future customers.

In this article we will go over ways of avoiding having your product listing hijacked and we will also discuss what to do if you product listing does get hijacked.

What is a Hijacker?

A hijacker essentially is someone who will use your product listing to list their own product. Their product may be an exact copy of yours, usually of inferior quality or it could be a counterfeit or fake version.

The listing hijacker is essentially taking all the credit for your hard work. Launching a product on Amazon can take time and money and a hijacker will therefore normally try to copy a popular product that is selling well on Amazon which has great reviews. As the hijacker has not had to spend time and money trying to launch the product on Amazon, they will be able to undercut your price and they will win the Buy Box off you and steal your sales.

How to Protect Yourself from the Product Hijackers?

Registering a Trademark to Protect Against Listing Hijackers

If you’re serious about selling on Amazon and building a scalable business you should definitely think about getting a trademark. Launching a private label product on Amazon can take time, effort and money, why would you want all that hard work to go to waste if someone copies your product?  Let’s be honest, it’s not very difficult nowadays for a competitor to get a generic version of a product produced, they could even be using the same factory that you have used.

What can be trademarked

A symbol, phrase, word, colours, design or a combination of any of these elements can be trademarked.

How to register a trademark (UK)

If you’re seeking to register a trademark in the UK, you can use the IPO website.  The cost of registering a trademark is just £170.

Once your application to register a trade mark has been received, they will send you an examination report within 20 days. After receiving the examination report, there will be a further 2 month period where anyone can oppose your registration. If no-one opposes your trademark within the period, your trademark will be registered and granted.

How to register a trademark (US)

If you’re looking to register a trademark in the US, you will need to use the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) site. Registering a US trademark can take considerably longer than a UK one and can take up to eight to nine months. It can cost between $250 – $600 per class.

Before you apply for a trademark it’s always advisable to check the trademark database to verify that there is not a similar or identical trademark that has already been registered. Also perform a Google search as well, just to check it’s not being used by anyone else.

Remember, a trademark must be filed in each territory you plan to sell in. If your trademark is registered in the US, you won’t be protected in Europe so you will need to apply for one in each territory that you plan on selling in.

Create a Website for Your Brand

Another good idea is to create your own website which has your brand name including logo and company details clearly visible. Make sure your details match the ones that you used when you registered for your seller account on Amazon. Also try to get a domain name which contains your brand name.

Nowadays you don’t even have to be a computer whizz to set-up a professional looking website. You can use sites like Shopify and WordPress. Check out our WordPress article which explains how you can create a site in less than a day.

Initially you can just link to your products on Amazo. As your business grows you add a shop to your website and therefore allowing your customer to buy directly from you.

Brand Your Product – Make it Look Unique

If your product is generic looking, a potential product hijacker will face no problem making an exact replica or similar looking one as yours. In order to reduce the likelihood of this happening, you want to brand your product so that it is distinct from your competitors. If you’ve trademarked your logo, get your manufacture to add it to your product. If your product comes in packaging, ask them to print your logo on it as well as your UPC code, this way customers will easily be able to tell whether the product they are buying is genuine or just a cheap copy.

Create a Product Listings Page Showing Clearly your Branding

When you create your product listing, ensure that you use photographs that display your logo clearly on your products, include close-up photos as well. When you write your product title, include your brand name in it and if it’s trademarked use the ® symbol.

In the bullet points and product description, also mention your brand name so that customers are aware that your product is unique.

Once you have completed your product listing page don’t forget to take screenshots of all sections so that you can use it for evidence in case a hijacker ever decides to modify it for their own benefit.

Sign-Up to Amazon’s Brand Registry

Providing you have active registered trademarked and you have created a website for your brand, Amazon allows you to register your brand using their Brand Registry.

You should always register your product through Brand Registry as it provides the following benefits:

  1. Allows you to report trademark violations and counterfeiters quickly to Amazon.
  2. You will be the only person who can make changes to the product listing page. If a listing page is altered apart from yourself, Amazon will reverse the changes.
  3. You can list products without needing a UPC, EAN, JAN or ISBN code.
  4. Gives users Enhanced Brand Content which allows to create enhanced product listings with larger photos, videos etc which should increase conversion rates.
  5. Allows users to use Headline Search ads which are visible at the top of the customer’s search results page which should result in increased sales as well as brand awareness.
Amazon Brand Registry
Amazon Brand Registry

The requirements to enrol in Brand Registry are the following:

  1. You will need an active registered trademark which is identical to the brand name that appears on the product/packaging. Amazon allows registered trademarks from the following countries currently: United Kingdom, United States, Canada, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, EU, Brazil, Mexico, India, Japan and Australia (see the below list for eligibility requirements for each country). You need provide proof of this by providing a trademark registration certificate.
  2. Provide images of the product and packaging that show the brand name.
  3. You will need to provide a link to your website that displays your brand and products.
  4. A list of product categories that you want your brand listed under.
  5. A high definition image file of your brand’s logo.
  6. A list of countries where the product is manufactured and distributed in.
  7. If you’re a reseller and distributor, you will need to provide an authorisation letter from the brand owner.
  8. You will also need to provide unique key identifier for your branded product.
Country NameEligibility Requirements
United StatesTrademark organization is USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office).
Text-based marks are 1 – Letter(s)/Word(s)/Number(s) and 4 – Standard Character Mark.
Trademark should have an active registration in the principal register.
Image-based trademark should include a drawing that can have Letter(s)/word(s)/number(s) in any stylized form.
CanadaTrademark organization is CIPO (Canadian Intellectual Property Office).
Trademark should be registered.
Text-based mark has to be a word.
Image-based mark has to be a design.
United KingdomTrademark organization is UK IPO (United Kingdom Intellectual Property Office) or EUIPO (European Union Intellectual Property Office).
Trademark should be registered.
Text-based mark has to be a word.
Image-based mark has to be a figurative mark (for UKIPO) or figurative mark with word Elements (for EUIPO).
GermanyTrademark organization is EUIPO (European Union Intellectual Property Office) or DPMA (Deutsches Patent und Markenamt).
Trademark should be registered.
Text-based mark has to be a wortmarke.
Iage-based mark has to be Bildmarke mit Wortelementen (for EUIPO) or Wort-Bildmarke (for DPMA).
SpainTrademark organization is EUIPO (European Union Intellectual Property Office) or OEPM (Oficina Espanola de Patentes y Marcas).
Tademark should be registered.
Text-based mark has to be a Marca denominative (for EUIPO).
Image-based mark has to be Marca figurativa (EUIPO) and Marca figurativa que contiene elementos denominativo (for EUIPO) and Mixta – Denominativo con gráfico (for OEPM).
ItalyTrademark organization is EUIPO (European Union Intellectual Property Office) or UIBM (Ufficio Italiano Brevetti e Marchi).
Trademark should be registered.
Text-based mark has to be Marchi denominativi (for EUIPO) and Marchio verbali (for UIBM).
Image-based mark has to be Marchi figurativi contenenti elementi denominativi (for EUIPO), Marchio figurativi (for UIBM), and Marchio figurativi a colori (for UIBM).
FranceTrademark organization is EUIPO (European Union Intellectual Property Office) or INPI (Institut national de la propriété industrielle).
Tademark has to be registered.
Text-based mark has to be Marque verbale (for EUIPO).
Image-based mark has to be Marque figurative comportant des éléments verbaux (for EUIPO) and Marque figurative (for EUIPO).
IndiaTademark organization is Controller General of Patents Designs and Trademarks.
Trademark has to be registered.
Text-based mark has to be a word.
Image-based mark has to be a device or combined.
AustraliaTrademark organization is IP Australia.
Trademark has to be registered.
Text-based mark has to be a word (can be either fancy or plain).
Image-based mark has to be a combined.

To commence the brand registry process, you will need to:

  1. Visit the brand registry website.
  2. Identify your trademark type which you have registered.
  3. Upload your product images, including high-definition images of your logo.
  4. Enter your UPC, EAN, JAN or ISBN code relating to your product.
  5. Submit the application and await to hear back from Amazon to see if you have been accepted.

As mentioned earlier, if you’re trying to register a trademark in the US, it could take up to 9 months for it to be granted. Amazon will only grant Brand Registry where you have an active registered trademark. If you’re worried about trademark infringement or want the benefits of Brand Registry early on, you may want to also consider filing for a trademark in the UK or in the EU where it takes around 3 months for it to be granted. This way, you can get onto the Amazon’s Brand Registry within a 3-4 months timeframe instead having a long wait for your US trademark to be granted.

What to do if Your Product Listing gets Hijacked?

In order to reduce the risk of your product listing being hijacked, you should monitor your listings on a regular basis. If you notice that your sales have fallen dramatically it may mean that someone has taken over your listing and they may have won the Buy Box off you.

As we have recommended, you should always register your brand using Amazon Brand Registry, this is the only real way that you can protect yourself against counterfeiters, hijackers or people using brand name or logo on Amazon.

If you do spot that someone has hijacked your listing or that your trademark or copyright has been infringed you should act quickly by following these steps:

1. Contact the Hijacker Directly

Once you identify a third-party is selling counterfeit or fake version of your product, you should contact the seller directly through their Amazon seller profile by sending them a Cease and Desist letter asking them to stop what they are doing and remove their product listing.

In the Cease and Desist letter, you should include the following:

  • Include the seller’s name/store name
  • Include your name
  • Mention you have an active trademark registered
  • Mention the actions you require from the seller i.e. take their product down from your listing, stop using your images etc
  • A time limit for complying with your demands
  • Provide a warning that legal action will be taken if they don’t comply with your request

2. Make a Test Purchase from your Hijacker

If the hijacker fails to reply or comply with your demands, we would recommend making a test purchase from the seller.  The purpose of this is to make a detailed comparison against your product and note down all the differences to prove they are selling a fraudulent copy.

Once you have received your test orders, document all the variations between your product. For example, if there is any difference in weight, size, colours, packaging include these.  Take photos of your test order and clearly mark on the photograph where the main differences are so that you have a strong case.

3. Report the Seller to Amazon

Once you have analysed the sellers product and noted down all the differences, you will need to report the seller via Brand Registry.

When reporting the seller, ensure you include the following information:

  • The name of store or seller you’re reporting
  • The ASIN of the counterfeit product
  • The order ID of your test purchase
  • Photos showing the main differences between your product and theirs
  • Detailed description of the major changes. Don’t forget include differences in packaging
  • State the actions you want Amazon to perform.

Once Amazon has received your complaint through Brand Registry, they will investigate and decide on the outcome.

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