Protecting your brand and revenue on Amazon can be a difficult task. Trademark protection, brand registry and keeping your Buy Box free of unauthorized sellers can feel overwhelming for many brands. On our podcast, Owning The Buy Box, we bring experts with practical solutions and battle-tested advice.
Joining our latest episode is Olivier de Combret, the head of IP at SellerX. Olivier and SellerX are Europe’s leading aggregators of e-commerce business, partnering with over 40 different brands and selling over 25,000 products. Olivier and his seasoned team evaluate brands of all sizes, with global responsibility for everything from brand protection, IP consolidation and management, acquisition, due diligence and portfolio management.
Join us as we discuss:
- The difference in perspective between luxury brands and e-commerce channels
- What aggregators look for when acquiring brands
- The role of geography in brand protection
Difference in sales channel perspectives: Luxury vs. e-commerce channels
Olivier began his journey in IP in luxury brands, having worked with Chanel for seven years. While luxury brands rely less on marketplaces like Amazon, Olivier’s experience at Chanel greatly informed his aggregator role at SellerX.
Luxury brands like Chanel rely very little on e-commerce, mainly selling direct-to-consumer. With centuries behind their brands, most of their brand protection efforts are aimed at counterfeits. For luxury brands, marketplaces like Amazon don’t offer opportunities — they increase risk.
However, most e-commerce brands, like those that sell on marketplaces, do not have the same visibility as iconic brands. So, according to Olivier, they require a very different approach to ensure brand protection.
While luxury brands protect their IP very defensively, e-commerce brands must take a more offensive approach.
“You have to create your own brand awareness, and IP is a critical step to this,” Olivier says. “Without it, you can’t use all of the benefits available through Amazon and other marketplaces.”
At SellerX, there is a large focus on building and maintaining the IP of the brands they acquire. But, IP is also vital before an acquisition.
Brand acquisition: A matter of due diligence
Before an aggregator acquires a brand, it must ensure that the business is a good investment. One of the most critical factors is brand protection.
“Here at SellerX, different people in the company look at various parts of the business in question to assess how strong it is,” Olivier says. “You have to ask, how protected is the business? And to what extent?”
Current and potential disputes are always a cause for concern. IP disputes can completely shut down a brand, bar them from selling and expanding or cost significant retribution. SellerX ensures they conduct a thorough investigation of all past, existing and potential IP disputes.
While a dispute doesn’t necessarily mean that a brand won’t be beneficial to the aggregator or profitable to the seller, it does mean that a potential buyer will have to assess whether the acquisition risk is worth it.
The role of geography in brand protection and value
One factor commonly overlooked by brands willing to sell to aggregators is geographic location. Many brands feel they are well protected once they register trademarks and protections within their own country. However, without considering protections in other regions, competitors can easily infiltrate with similar trademarks, barring the brand from expanding into those countries.
Similarly, if a brand is only protected in one region, nothing stops competitors from registering the same trademark in other countries. In a digital world where TikTok can spur overnight success in sales, it is essential to ensure design patents and trademarks are registered across all major regions.
“If a competitor is using the same or a very similar trademark in Germany, then it could block any expansion into the EU market,” Olivier says. “We need to know about these things before acquiring a company.”
Geographic limitations strongly decrease brand valuation. So, when building a brand, businesses should strongly consider keeping a growth mindset and protecting their IP worldwide.
Brand protection is absolutely essential for selling on marketplaces like Amazon. Whether you’re planning to sell to an aggregator, acquire additional brands or continue with your own brand, protecting it well is critical for growth and success.
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