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Watch Out: Unauthorized Changes in USPTO and Amazon Brand Records

Posted in Almost Advice, Technology, USPTO

Trademark owners should beware of a scam involving the Amazon Brand Registry. There have been several reports of rogue users exploiting the Amazon Brand Registry through the unauthorized modification of trademark registration records at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). These scammers are submitting fraudulent requests to change the email addresses for trademark registrants, and thereafter, updating the brand ownership records with the Amazon Brand Registry.

As we have previously discussed, trademark infringement and counterfeiting is an ongoing issue on Amazon. In recent years, Amazon vastly improved its brand protection capabilities with the Amazon Brand Registry. Enrollment in the Amazon Brand Registry, which requires a trademark registration, allows brand owners to control the detail pages for their product listings (which Amazon otherwise controls), and create customized “Store” pages to showcase their branded products. Enrollment also provides access to powerful tools for reporting intellectual property violations and removing infringing product listings.

Because Amazon relies on USPTO records to verify the owner of the trademarks that are registered in the Amazon Brand Registry, this scam can result in the true trademark owner losing control of their brand and store pages on Amazon, and hindering their ability to report intellectual property violations. Indeed, the scammer can take over the brand owner’s store pages and product listing details, and sell their own counterfeit products from such pages instead.

Unfortunately, until security measures are improved by the USPTO, this is a scam that is difficult to prevent. For example, the USPTO could require additional authentication before approving an address change request, such as sending a security code to the current address of record, but such an improvement has not yet been implemented. For now, the USPTO is monitoring every address change request while it “explores a long-term solution” to stop the fraud.

In the meantime, trademark owners should always ensure that email addresses are up-to-date in USPTO records, so that any notices regarding address changes are received. Furthermore, it may be worthwhile to do a spot check of registration records to see if any unauthorized changes have occurred. If you see any unauthorized changes, you should contact your attorney, inform the USPTO at teas@uspto.gov, file the appropriate forms to correct USPTO correspondence records, and then get in touch with the Amazon Brand Registry to correct any unauthorized changes.