The growth of e-commerce has fundamentally changed the way we buy goods and services online. Gone are the days of long lines, traffic, and other daily inconveniences. Instead, e-commerce gives consumers the ability to compare hundreds of products online, the flexibility to buy products on-demand, and, in many cases, the option to select fast and affordable shipping. Many e-commerce websites also host third-party sellers who compete with each other to offer the lowest possible price to the consumer. However, unbeknownst to many, as the popularity of e-commerce has grown over the years, so has the trade in counterfeit goods. It is inevitable that every business achieving any level of success selling on an online retail platform, or in the e-commerce marketplace in general, will encounter counterfeit versions of their products online.
Today, e-commerce is an essential retail method for businesses, including for small- and medium-sized enterprises. Many e-commerce platforms take proactive measures to prevent the sale of counterfeits as well as provide reactive tools to right holders when a counterfeit is identified on its platform. Not all e-commerce platforms use these proactive measures, but almost all provide reactive measures for right holders to report counterfeits to their platform. These reactive measures include brand registries, like eBay’s Verified Rights Owner (VeRO) Program, Amazon’s Brand Registry, Etsy’s Reporting Portal, and Walmart’s Brand Portal, which allow right holders to report suspected counterfeit listings to the platform. Once a right holder reports a counterfeit, e-commerce platforms generally investigate the complaint, contact the seller for more information, and, if the product is identified as a counterfeit, remove the product from the platform and, in some cases, ban the seller. For many online retail platforms, once a counterfeit is reported it is often removed from its online marketplace.
Most brand registry programs, such as Amazon Brand Registry, Etsy Reporting Portal, Walmart Brand Portal, and eBay VeRO program, strongly encourage or require that the brands participating in their programs obtain a trademark registration issued by the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO). This is because having a trademark registration issued by the USPTO provides legal protection for the brand and helps ensure that the brand and its products are unique in the marketplace and not already being used by another party. Additionally, having a trademark registration issued by the USPTO makes it easier for the brand to enforce its rights and stop trademark infringement or unauthorized use of their brand’s registered trademarks. In some cases, it may be a requirement for participating in the brand registry program.
Please note that the following summary is our understanding of the brand registry programs and you should visit the Amazon, Walmart, eBay, and Etsy platforms for further details and program changes.