If you’re a brand owner selling on Amazon then you know that protecting your brand can be a full-time job. In this Episode Chris McCabe & Leah McHugh discuss the complexity of brand registry and the challenges it can present if approached incorrectly.
[00:00:07] Chris: Hello, Amazon sellers. This is Chris McCabe, welcoming you back to Self Performance Solutions. I'm here again with Leah McHugh. My favorite co-host, my only co-host. how are you?
[00:00:23] Leah: I can be your favorite and only, that's fine.
[00:00:26] Chris: You're my only regular co-host. Today we're talking about brand registry. It's such a mess. People are having trouble getting brand registry.
Sometimes people are losing access to brand registry, having trouble transferring brand registry, brand registry nightmares are today's topic. And Leah is our brand registry consultant extraordinaire covering this topic. Some of it, I can't get my hands around it. Some of it, just infuriates me that after this many years Amazon can't master this concept and take a private label brand, which is properly trademark registered and in brand registry and communicate with that party, fix some of these listing issues. Some of the brand registration issues, you seem to be way more patient with these guys than I am.
[00:01:13] Leah: No, not really. It's funny. Cause it's like, as they are becoming less and less useful, they're also becoming harder and harder to get into and maintain. So it's like you have to go through all of this extra work to then not really utilize the team because I've stopped really sending any cases to brand or industry. I can't even remember the last time I sent a case to brand registry in terms of fixing a listing issue or something like that.
[00:01:39] Chris: Which is interesting because two years ago you were telling me you were doing it and it was working.
[00:01:44] Leah: yeah because they were good.
[00:01:47] Chris: They hadn't converted to let's automate this. Let's dumb it down. Let's turn brand registry into seller support. They hadn't done that yet.
[00:01:55] Leah: Well, and it's almost worse than seller support at this point. I think there's a combination of the team not being very well-trained and also, I think they've moved around who has the ability to do what, and then didn't tell anybody about it.
So often times you'll get bounced back and forth between support and catalog and brand registry, because they're all like, oh, that's not us. That's the other team. And then you get bounced all around the world. But what we're seeing an increase of is issues with registering for brand registry and issues with like maintaining access to brand registry for a number of reasons.
So first of all, if you are a brand owner, don't have another company register your brand in brand registry for you. You need to be in control of brand registry for your brands, because we have seen far too many people stop working with the agency that now controls their brand registry, and now they can't get control of it back or access it at all sometimes if they never had their own login.
[00:03:02] Chris: That's not just brand registry though. There are people who have somebody else register their account and they're registering it in their own, the agent or the agency or their representative of your business registers in their name. And then they try to transfer ownership later and that creates problems. People are doing it on the account creation side too.
[00:03:21] Leah: Right. You see people doing that with their domains too, for their own website. Like you need to be the owner of these things. You need to be the one that ultimately controls the account because you just don't know if you're going to be working with other people in the future.
And also- you don't want issues with whoever that other person is to cause issues on your brand registry, which is also something we're seeing where a lot of agencies in particular who have access to multiple brand registry accounts, if they have any issue with any of their account, it seems to affect all of them in like a domino effect kind of way.
So again, this is another very important reason why you need to be in control of your brand registry for your brand, not added as a user by an agency later, you need to be the owner of the brand registry, and then you can add them as a user later. That's number one.
[00:04:15] Chris: I think that's just due diligence across the board for owning an Amazon business. You have to understand that you can't just throw up your hands and say, well, I don't know anything about Amazon and these people do so I'm going to hand them the keys to my car and let them drive my car all over town and not think about what happens when they're in my car.
[00:04:32] Leah: Well and if you don't know how to do it you can have somebody help you sign up, but it still needs to be controlled by you. It needs to be controlled by your email address, your account. It's your trademark. You need to be the one in control of that. So that's point number one, point number two is that we're seeing a lot of people running into an issue either when they're trying to enroll a brand or when they're trying to add a user to the brand, they're getting a message back saying that their application has been denied because their account has been associated with fraudulent behavior.
And that sounds really bad then the kind of messaging that you're getting, but "fraudulent behavior", They're using that term extremely broadly. So what we've been seeing more often than not actually is that if the person who gets that message takes a look at maybe an international account that they don't sell on. If you happen to open a Canadian or Mexico account that you never sold on. It maybe got suspended without you noticing. And that suspension in an international marketplace is the fraudulent behavior that they're using to reject your application.
[00:05:45] Chris: Right. They're extremely unclear about what the behavior is. Then they say, well, of course, because it involves elicit behavior we can't share those details with you either.
[00:05:54] Leah: Well, and I haven't seen them send any other messaging. Like if they deny your brand registry account, that is the one message. So it doesn't necessarily mean that they think you committed fraud. It's just that is their one denial template for a brand registry.
[00:06:10] Chris: Messaging in general, I think messaging even outside of brand registry is becoming more, more watered down, more generic, more canned, fewer permutations with fewer specifics. So just be prepared for that.
[00:06:24] Leah: But so the good news with this is that they do actually now give you an application to appeal that decision, which before they gave you no path to escalate it and they'd have to come to us and we would have to escalate it to somebody.
Now they actually do give you an appeal form to fill out, but you need to make sure that you're checking all of your accounts before you submit that appeal, because if one of your accounts is suspended, they're just going to keep rejecting you. And we've seen people who have been suspended, who then lose access to their brand registry as well.
If there's any sort of issue with your selling accounts. More often than not will affect your brand registry accounts. So you need to make sure that any marketplace that you have an account open on is healthy and in good standing.
[00:07:04] Chris: I've had that question this week on client calls, consultation calls, where people asked if we have another account, if that account gets blocked, can we transfer the brand registry ownership to another account owner or to another party?
[00:07:18] Leah: You probably wouldn't even be able to. You get signed out sometimes of brand registry or it just gets rid of that brand.
[00:7:20] Chris: They started, maybe within the last six months they started treating brand registry in the same blocked for related fashion that they did related accounts.
[00:7:30] Leah: But without telling you so it's just fraudulent behavior and you got to figure out what that means, because sometimes it is also like maybe you're associated with somebody who was submitting false IP claims who then lost access to brand registry because they were committing fraud through brand registry. So it can mean that, but more often than not, we're seeing it just means a suspended account or your account health isn't good on an account .But the scary part is, is that, when you're related for a suspended account and your account gets suspended, you know exactly that you are related to a suspended account and you maybe have to figure out what that account is, but you know, that you're suspended for a related account with this you don't actually know until you start looking into things and trying to figure out what it is that they're talking about, because most of the people I've had this issue with that I've worked on, it was an account that they weren't even selling on. Like they didn't even realize that they had an international account suspended until this happened. And I had them look at all of their accounts.
[00:08:34] Chris: Well, the IP claim abuse, they got away from sending the message saying you've been submitting false infringement claims. Sometimes they do. I think just revoke your brand registry status. If they think you're submitting false counterfeit claims just to get somebody off your listing because you're frustrated that you can't get your listings gated. So you start going nuclear and submitting anything you can.
[00:08:54] Leah: If you're using an agency, that's doing that and that's doing that across multiple accounts, even if they're not doing it on your account, you can still then be associated with that fraudulent behaviors. You have to be very careful about who you're having submit things.
[00:09:08] Chris: Not just an agency, but also a lot of sellers are using the same law firm. And if those law firms are signing in and out of their account, you know what I mean? Then there's IP hit relationships on top of amazon seeing the same kind of legal letter going in with the same kind of counterfeit report and you and I have seen some who are sending false allegations of counterfeit just to get people off listings.
[00:09:33] Leah: My favorite one of recent times, just to like share a fun story, which isn't really fun because it's a nightmare, vaguely illegal. Somebody was selling a product under one brand and they got a counterfeit claim from another brand saying that they were selling a counterfeit version of their products and then the seller actually did a test buy of the brand that made the complaint against them.
Let's call them brand B, brand B had actually just stuck a sticker with brand B over the sticker of brand A on the products and then claimed that our client was selling a counterfeit of their product.
[00:10:10] Chris: Right.
[00:10:10] Leah: And they used a real law firm to submit this claim.
[00:03:02] Chris: The sad thing is they used a law firm to submit that claim and back them up. And they probably felt comfortable doing it because of extremely awful legal advice they got from that lawyer.
[00:10:26] Leah: And that law firm will not respond to our client.
[00:10:30] Chris: The law firm won't respond. Of course, because they know what they're doing is garbage. I also wondered if like reviews abuse, review solicitation might be one of the elicit behaviors they're talking about. If you're related to a brand that pumped up reviews, positive reviews on one of their ASINs and they got in trouble, would that negatively impact you even though you never solicited reviews in an elicit manner for your brand?
[00:10:44] Leah: I haven't really seen that specifically in terms of the brand registry getting denied, but I'm sure it is happening or will happen because it's really just anything that puts the account in bad standing.
[00:11:11] Chris: Right. Because Amazon stopped suspending only the entire account for reviews abuse. They started suspending additional ASINs. They decided they didn't want to just drain those ASINs of all their reviews and delete all the reviews but they started suspending ASINs for this, I think because they didn't want to keep suspending entire accounts.
A lot of sellers who are entirely suspended for reviews abuse don't even get responses to their appeals because Seller Performance knows they can ignore them, knows they can throw your appeal away and that's created a huge backlog of all these sellers who are suspended, not getting answers. So they started this newer thing of just suspending your ASIN. But of course we hear from people who have their top selling ASIN suspended. That's kind of like having an account suspension for some people.
[00:11:53] Leah: Sometimes, I feel like when we're talking about this stuff, even though it's a different subject each time, we're ultimately saying the same thing every single time, which is make sure your own behavior on your account is clean and also make sure that you know what other people are doing on your accounts. Whether we're talking about brand registry, or we're talking about accounts has pensions or ASIN suspensions. Ultimately what we're saying every single time is that you need to make sure you know that what you're doing on your account is okay, and you need to make sure that you know what other people are doing on your account because somebody else did it and I didn't know what they were doing is not an okay excuse for Amazon and you're putting your entire business at risk.
[00:12:39] Chris: You can't just outsource and say, Well, they know what they're doing. They're experts, we're putting it in their hands and assume those people know the rules want to play by the rules.
This also comes up with people hiring VAs because they're cheap, but not understanding what they know about Amazon's policies and enforcement teams. My experience, they have a very kind of copy and paste knowledge of that stuff. They don't know what my former teams are really doing internally because you're not really paying them enough to know that. You're outsourcing it to reduce your operational costs, but you're not really paying them for wall-to-wall compliance knowledge in most cases.
[00:13:19] Leah: In conclusion know what's happening on your accounts.
[00:13:21] Chris: All right. Thanks everybody for listening in. We will take any questions you've got on this nasty nightmare, brand registry process breakdown, problem that a lot of people are experiencing. Ecommercechris.com is the best place to go for quick action on a holiday problem. Thanks again, Leah. Talk to you soon.