Over the years, we have witnessed many Amazon sellers–often, foreign companies–unceremoniously rip off successful consumer products, with complete disregard for patent rights. Recognizing that rampant patent-infringement on its marketplace is bad for business, Amazon launched its Neutral Patent Evaluation program. This program enables U.S. patent holders to permanently shutdown infringers with an unprecedent efficiency. Moreover, this program heavily favors patent holders. Indeed, having to defend an Amazon listing against patent infringement claims is an uphill battle for the accused Amazon seller. Accordingly, Amazon’s IP policy strives to achieve a balance between enforcing patent rights and shielding legitimate products against frivolous infringement accusations. For this reason, Amazon took a step of making its Neutral Patent Evaluation program “invitation-only.”

Email from Amazon advising that Neutral Patent Evaluation is “Invitation-Only”

Improving your chances of qualifying for Amazon Neutral Patent Evaluation program

As with anything “invitation-only,” knowing the right people is critical. Although Amazon does not release statistics for its Neutral Patent Evaluation program, our first-hand experience provides helpful insight. For example, many patent holders approach us after spending months of sending emails to Amazon to no avail. When contacted directly by a patent owner, Amazon usually takes a “soft” approach. Amazon simply recommends the patent owner to get in touch with the accused seller to resolve the issue. This approach is usually ineffective. Indeed, cease-and-desist letters sent to Amazon infringers–especially the ones located overseas–often fall on deaf ears. The back-and-forth emails with Amazon and infringing sellers can become time-consuming and lead nowhere.

On the hand, when a patent attorney contacts Amazon on behalf of the patent owner, especially from an IP firm with a winning track record in Neutral Patent Evaluation program, the likelihood of receiving the coveted invitation increases. Furthermore, generic infringement allegations tend to carry little weight. However, Amazon tends to take seriously well-reasoned claim charts demonstrating patent expertise and due diligence.

Invitation from Amazon to participate in Neutral Patent Evaluation program