Important Information for Amazon Sellers
By: Eric Karich, Registered Patent and Trademark Attorney
Amazon sellers take note, there have been some important changes in the fields of patents and trademarks that could have a big impact on your business.
First, Amazon has changed their rules regarding Amazon Brand Registry. An Amazon Seller is now required to register their trademark in each country in which you want to obtain Amazon Brand Registry. While Amazon once accepted a trademark registration in any country, now to qualify for U.S. ABS, you must have a U.S. trademark registration on the principle register. Registration in a U.S. state is not acceptable, nor is registration on the Supplemental register, nor are foreign registrations accepted.
Second, a recent change with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) will also affect the US Amazon brand registry, as now all foreign domiciled applicants are required to go through a US Attorney to file/prosecute a trademark application with the USPTO. This change is being made now to combat the rampant abuses of the system being made by foreign applicants, especially from China.
Third, to help combat against patent infringement, Amazon has implemented a new program that enables binding mediation of patent disputes through an Amazon appointed patent attorney. Once a patent holder has filed to take down an infringing Amazon listing, the alleged infringing seller is notified, and they have 21 days to contest the accusation. In order to challenge the allegation, said seller must submit $4000 to a neutral Amazon selected patent attorney. However, if the seller does not challenge the accusation, their listing will be removed.
Presuming the seller does, in fact, challenge the allegation of infringement, the patent owner must also submit $4000 to proceed with the dispute resolution. The Amazon appointed patent attorney will then review all necessary information (usually over a period of two months) and will reach a decision soon after. Amazon will either leave or remove the listing depending on the practitioner’s decision. The “winner” of this evaluation will be refunded their $4000 payment while the “loser” will forfeit their payment to cover the costs of the dispute resolution.
These reforms should be a welcome relief for all patent holders selling on Amazon, and they should help new product developers successfully fight the flood of knock off products, and maintain healthy profit margins on their Amazon products.