As shoppers continue to transition from brick and mortar storefronts to online shopping, enforcing your hard-earned intellectual property rights can become harder to enforce and prevent. However, Amazon, one of the largest and most popular online retailers, has taken several measures to ensure that its sellers have the resources to combat intellectual property infringement of its seller’s brands.
Generally, there are three main forms of intellectual property protection. These include patents, trademarks, and copyrights. Patents protect the utility and/or ornamental aspects of an article of manufacture, while trademarks protect the consumers by protecting band names and logos. Copyrights, on-the-other-hand, protects published and unpublished works of authorship.
To help enforce these rights Amazon provides three primary resources to its sellers to combat intellectual property infringement:
- Amazon Brand Registry;
- Amazon Utility Patent Neutral Evaluation Procedure; and
- Amazon’s Report Infringement Form
Amazon Brand Registry
Amazon’s Brand Registry program is a powerful tool that is available to owners of registered trademarks. The Brand Registry provides unique control over brands by providing search tools to search various Amazon stores along with automated tools that monitor and proactively remove infringing and inaccurate content.
Users of Amazon’s Brand Registry have access to an internal Amazon team for both submitting and escalating the case. In addition, unlike other resources, the Amazon Brand Registry provides a monitoring tool to monitor your brand and escalate the case when it is appropriate. However, access to this program requires owners to have a registered trademark in the United States or one of several counties listed on its website.
In addition, intellectual property owners are also permitted to gain access to Amazon’s Transparency program. The Transparency program applies codes to your specific products. These codes are then scanned by Amazon before shipping the products to customers. This helps to ensure that customers receive only genuine products.
Amazon’s Neutral Patent Evaluation Procedure
To take advantage of the procedure, the patent owner files an Amazon Utility Patent Neutral Evaluation Agreement (the Agreement). The Agreement includes the Amazon Standard Identification Number (ASIN) of the product in question. Amazon then sends the Agreement to sellers offering the product under the supplied ASIN. Once the seller receives the Agreement, the seller then has two options:
- Continue forward with the procedure, or
- Remove the listing
By providing the seller an option, the Agreement helps prevent fraudulent claims that are aimed to take legitimate sellers out of business for days or weeks while the claim is being evaluated.
A $4,000 deposit is required by the parties if all sellers agree to participate in the program. The deposit is paid to a neutral third-party patent attorney at the end of the program. The third-party attorney is independently selected by Amazon. When the parties agree and payment is made the
Once all arguments have been submitted, the neutral evaluator has 14 days to render a decision finding that either that the patent owner is likely or not to succeed. If the neutral evaluator believes that the patent owner is likely to succeed, the product is removed from Amazon. Consequently, if the neutral evaluator believes that the seller(s) is/are likely to proceed then the product remains listed. The losing party’s $4,000 fee is then paid out to the evaluator, while the successful party gets their refunded.
It is important to note that while the Procedure does not permit appeals, the losing party still retains the option to file a lawsuit.
Amazon’s Report Infringement Form
The Amazon Report Infringement Form is intended to be used by intellectual property rights owners and their agents to report intellectual property infringement to Amazon, including patent, copyright, and trademark infringement. However, one of the main limitations of this process is that you are limited to 1,000 characters with no ability to attached supplemental evidence.
In conclusion, Amazon has made strides in providing intellectual property right holders a path to enforce their rights outside of court. Stay tuned in the coming days for a list of frequently asked questions and answers regarding Amazon’s Brand Registry.