Amazon recently took its first steps into the legal marketplace, introducing a service that connects small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with law firms so that they can secure trademark and brand protection.

In an article posted at Global Legal Chronicle, Dominic Carman explains that the Amazon Intellectual Property Accelerator is an online network of law firms “which provide trademark application and registration services at pre-negotiated rates. Amazon says that [the Accelerator] ‘helps brands more quickly obtain intellectual property (IP) rights and brand protection in Amazon’s stores’.”

The U.S. law firms in the IP network (the names of the 11 firms approved so far appear in Carman’s article) have been vetted in advance by Amazon. Amazon makes it clear that it is offering only information: businesses that retain the law firms on its list will contract with them directly. In addition to trademark applications, these firms offer SMEs other IP services, such as patent design and copyright registration.

Amazon has taken up this initiative in part to reduce instances of fraud on its platform. Carman notes that “After engaging a firm, businesses can then access Amazon’s suite of fraud prevention tools.”

Amazon’s new IP Accelerator, announced in a blog post dated October 1, 2019, currently offers trademarks and other IP advice to those selling in the U.S. Carman says that the company has expressed interest in rolling out the program in other countries in which it does business. Given Amazon’s global reach and its highly popular rating-and-review option for verified purchasers, Carman imagines a future in which Amazon offers not only pre-vetted law firms in the field of intellectual property, but in other areas such as incorporations, real estate, and wills and estates. Ultimately its reviews option would make it a competitor with other legal directories.

Many people are already concerned with the extent of Amazon’s reach into the lives of its customers. Others, such as Dominic Carman, welcome the idea of applying Amazon’s existing customer-service capacity and brand recognition to legal services. “Think ahead over the next 23 years,” he says, “and it is not too hard to envisage Amazon being the natural port of call for anyone needing a lawyer to sell a house, draft a will or claim against an insurance company.”

I would be interested to know your thoughts on this or any other matter relating to the management of law firms. You can contact me in the comments section below, or directly via email.