"[Amazon has] a lot of resources that can help businesses, especially small and medium-sized businesses, be successful."
Canadian IP Voices is a podcast where we talk about intellectual property (IP) with a range of professionals and stakeholders across Canada and abroad.
In episode 2, "Protect your IP in Amazon stores," Mary Beth Westmoreland, Amazon's Vice President of Brand Protection, talks about what Amazon does to protect sellers and their IP against infringement online, and what new sellers need to know before they start selling their products on the platform.
Selling online has its advantages, but there are also challenges associated with e-commerce and IP. In this post, we will discuss Amazon's new IP program and provide insights on important IP considerations for selling online.
Amazon's IP Accelerator program
"Amazon has 1.9 million selling partners, and so many of them are entrepreneurs and inventors and small business owners who have unique and innovative products, and we want to help them protect their brands. Not just on Amazon, but everywhere…"
Amazon aims to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and entrepreneurs successfully leverage their platform while benefiting from formal IP rights protection. Its IP Accelerator program connects SMEs with a network of trusted Canadian IP law firms who provide high-quality IP registration services at competitive rates. Participants have access to 8 options, including women and minority-owned and, multilingual firms. Amazon's IP Accelerator helps entrepreneurs navigate the world of IP and mitigates many of the barriers SMEs face when pursuing formal rights, including costs, developing an effective strategy, and understanding the filing process in Canada and abroad. Additionally, Amazon offers brand protection, building tools and features on its platform to allow businesses to better protect and grow their brand as part of this IP initiative. Participating companies can even access the tools before their trademark registration is issued.
Ready to get started? Visit Amazon's IP Accelerator web page.
E-Commerce and IP
Illegal copies and unauthorized sales on online platforms can be a huge challenge for businesses and entrepreneurs. It's crucial that SMEs understand the importance of obtaining formal IP rights to stop others from infringing on their ideas. To learn more, visit the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO)'s web page on enforcement and infringement.
When it comes to selling online, you should take the necessary steps to protect your business as well as ensuring that you are not infringing on the rights of others.
Copyright is the sole right to produce, reproduce, publish or perform an original literary, artistic, dramatic or musical work, and applies to pictures and written materials on your website or social media. It can also relate to software used to create computer programs. To protect copyright and minimize the risk of infringing on the rights of others when selling on Amazon or any other platform, you should consider the following questions:
- If you are a copyright owner, have you considered registering your copyright?
- If you are a copyright owner, have you included copyright notices in your materials?
- Do you have the right to use or copy all the materials (including text and images) on your website?
- Have you obtained permission for the use of any copyright material (including information found on the web)?
Trademarks can protect good or service names, slogans, logos, taglines, modes of packaging, moving images, amongst other things. These aspects of your business may be crucial to protect as they contribute to your brand image. Keep in mind that website content can infringe on trademark rights, so it is equally important to ensure that you are not infringing on the rights of others. To avoid this, you should consider the following questions:
- Have you considered using and registering your domain name as a trademark? This will help you support a claim of trademark rights if someone challenges your use of a particular trademark. Registrations should be made in as many common domains as possible (e.g..com,.ca,.org,.net).
- If you are using another business or person's trademark, is it authorized by a trademark license? Similarly, you should not allow others to use your trademark without a trademark license.
- Have you registered your domain names with local registrars? This will reduce the risk of infringing foreign trademarks.
- Have you declared your trademark rights on your websites? Have you declared your trademark rights in website use agreements?
To recap, the process to obtain IP rights can feel intimidating and time consuming. However, Amazon's IP Accelerator program helps businesses secure trademark protection. Whether you are selling on Amazon or another platform, remember, there are several IP-related factors you should consider when it comes to protecting your business, but also to ensure that you are not infringing on the rights of others.
Do you want to file for formal rights, but don't know where to start? A range of IP professionals are available to offer different services. They can help you identify and protect IP and develop a strategy to protect and enforce your IP in Canada and abroad. To learn more, visit CIPO's web page on hiring an IP professional.