When discussing potential intellectual property filings, client’s express to me concern about the high cost of enforcing intellectual property through the legal system. This is a real concern. While a cease-and-desist letter is relatively inexpensive, contested patent, trademark, or copyright litigation will easily run into the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. Some businesspeople even forgo intellectual property filings all together for this reason. One reason I think this is a mistake is that the litigation system is not the only avenue for enforcement of your intellectual property rights.
For instance, the Amazon Brand Registry provides significant incentive to obtain a federal trademark for any entrepreneur who markets a product on Amazon. Gaining Amazon’s protection of a business owner’s product along with Amazon’s relatively inexpensive enforcement mechanism alone justifies the cost of obtaining trademark registration if you are an Amazon seller. This is especially true in business areas where Amazon is the dominant (or sometimes exclusive) customer channel because if you can kick an infringing competitor off of Amazon, the competitor will perish.
The full list of eligibility requirements can be found at https://brandservices.amazon.com /eligibility, but the most significant of these is that you must hold an active registered trademark.
The full list of benefits to enrolling in the Amazon Brand Registry can be found at https://brandservices.amazon.com/benefits. However, there are several other common-sense advantages. First, the cost and time required to enroll is minimal—especially compared to the trademarking process. Second, the proactive protections Amazon offers to enrolled entrepreneurs may enable them to significantly lessen the need for costly litigation.
Additionally, if you are operating in the United States, Amazon has recently upgraded the Brand Registry to include the Amazon Transparency Program, which it describes as “an item-level tracing service that helps brands proactively identify and prevent counterfeits from reaching customers.” This is only one of the upgrades that Amazon has made to the Brand Registry; a list of other upgrades can be found at https://brandservices.amazon.com/progressreport.
For these reasons, amongst others, if you sell or plan to sell over Amazon, trademark registration should be considered essential.