Ambrogi reports…….It is not hard to imagine a time when Amazon offers curated networks of lawyers providing services at pre-negotiated rates.

Online retailer Amazon has taken a step into the legal services industry, launching a curated network of IP law firms providing trademark registration services at pre-negotiated rates.

The goal of the new Amazon Intellectual Property Accelerator is to help companies more quickly obtain IP rights for their brands and access to brand-protection features in Amazon’s stores. It specifically targets small- and medium-sized businesses by making it easier and more cost effective for them to protect their ideas.

“Expert legal guidance is critical for businesses to protect their brands and avoid costly mistakes in the trademark filing process,” wrote Dharmesh Mehta, Amazon’s VP of customer trust and partner support, in a blog post announcing the program. “IP Accelerator solves this challenge by connecting businesses with a curated network of trusted IP law firms that provide high quality trademark registration services at competitive rates to help brands secure a trademark.”

Amazon so far has approved 10 law firms to participate in the program, including FisherBroylesIdeaLegalThe Sladkus Law GroupMcCormick, Paulding & Huber; and Dunner Law.

While these 10 firms are all U.S.-based and focused on U.S. trademark applications, Amazon says it plans to expand IP Accelerator in the future to support trademark applications in other countries. A company need not be a seller on Amazon to work with an IP Accelerator law firm.

These firms have agreed to maximum fees for specified services, including $500 for a trademark search, $600 for a trademark application, and $1,800 for a comprehensive brand review. The company pays nothing to Amazon and contracts directly with the law firm.

Amazon says it has vetted each of these firms for experience, expertise, and customer service. As with other offerings on Amazon, firms’ listings will include customer reviews.

In addition to easier, fixed-fee access to legal services, the accelerator offers companies a secondary benefit. Amazon says that because it has thoroughly vetted these law firms, companies that use them will be “strong candidates for registration.”

For that reason, Amazon says, it will offer the companies access to brand-protection features within its platform, months or even years before a trademark registration officially issues.

“Brands will benefit from automated brand protections, which proactively block bad listings from Amazon’s stores, increased authority over product data in our store, and access to our Report a Violation tool, a powerful tool to search for and report bad listings that have made it past our automated protections,” Mehta’s blog post explains.

AMAZON’S ENTRÉE INTO LEGAL SERVICES?

Amazon has a strong self-interest in fighting counterfeits and protecting the brands of the businesses that sell on its platform. For that reason, providing easier access to IP law firms makes sense for Amazon, as well as for its sellers and ultimately its customers.

But could this be a first step for Amazon in providing broader access to legal services?

The listings for these new IP Accelerator law firms appear within Amazon’s Service Provider Network, a site that already provides Amazon sellers with access to “trusted local providers” of services in fields such as accounting, advertising, compliance,  shipping, tax registration, and more.

If it benefits its sellers to help them with IP services, might Amazon follow with providing access to legal services providers in other areas that would benefit them, such as corporate or employment law?

And if Amazon is successful at building legal networks to serve its sellers, might it take that a step further and build networks of law firms to offer their services to its customers at large?

It is not hard to imagine a time when Amazon offers curated networks of lawyers providing services at pre-negotiated rates in areas such as family law, immigration law, and estate planning.

This is pure conjecture, of course. But when you start to think of Amazon as the next LegalZoom, the biggest question may be, “Why not?”

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