As an Amazon seller, intellectual property should be important to you.
Growing numbers of online retailers, small businesses and independent sellers rely on Amazon’s seller platforms to present their products to millions of customers. This presents a unique set of challenges to sellers that often involve intellectual property. The sale of counterfeit items can really be a headache for patent rights-holders, and they are often left to fend for themselves when it comes to infringement.
The Neutral Patent Evaluation Procedure
On the Patent side, we often deal with Amazon’s neutral patent evaluation program. The Neutral Patent Evaluation Procedure was set in place by Amazon in early 2019. The purpose of this procedure was to resolve disputes between Amazon sellers offering counterfeit products and patent owners. This invitation-only system, limited to utility patents, allows rights-holders to follow a set of steps to remove infringing products.
First, the patent owner must submit an Amazon Utility Patent Neutral Evaluation Agreement for the Amazon Standard Identification Number (ASIN) in question.
Next, Amazon sends this agreement to each seller on the platform offering the ASIN. Those who receive a copy of the agreement will have two options:
- Have their products removed from the platform.
- Move ahead with the agreement.
If the seller does not dispute the accusation, Amazon will remove the infringing subject matter and issue a deposit refund to the patent holder. However, if the accused seller decides to fight the claim, further action is necessary.
If the seller decides to move forward with arguments to avoid a takedown, the involved parties are then required to pay a fee to the neutral evaluator.
The patent holder then has 3 weeks to submit their first round of arguments, and the latter has 2 weeks. Generally, it is wise to have an IP attorney representing you through out this process as the neutral body can announce the decision in the favor of either party based on the information submitted.
Amazon will then remove the product in question if the evaluator gives the result in favor of the patent owner.
On the flip side
We deal with issuing takedown notices as we all as defending takedown notices, participating in the arbitration process that Amazon uses, and providing patent litigation services in federal court.
An IP attorney can provide analysis and strategy on the best way to avoid and deal with potential Amazon takedown notices and suspensions. Amazon takes a much broader approach to enforcement and tends to lean to the IP holder’s side. We work with companies that are trying to navigate this maze successfully.
Ultimately, we consider not only the legal elements but, even more importantly, the business and practical ramifications.
If you would like to learn more about e-Commerce intellectual property, sign up for our upcoming webinar on December 9th featuring Managing Shareholder Thomas Stanton, Rochelle Walk of Aegis Law and Nate Lind of Website Closers! Register here.
Stanton IP Law Firm, P.A. can help with The Neutral Patent Evaluation Procedure as well as takedown notices, arbitration, patent litigation and more.
Call us today at 813-421-3883 to schedule a free consultation or click the link below!