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1. Trademark your brand name.

You will need to have a registered trademark to enforce your company’s brand on Amazon. Overall, this is a fairly straightforward process. Hire a patent attorney to perform a trademark search and determine whether a previously filed or registered trademark already exists at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

2. Protect proprietary products with a design patent.

While utility patents typically provide greater protection over a product, many Amazon sellers that sell redesigned and well-known products are better suited for a design patent. Roughly 70% of design patent applications are allowed without any rejection. Even if a rejection does issue, the basis for rejection is typically minor and easy to overcome with a patent law attorney. 

How much does a design patent for Amazon sellers cost? The average design patent cost, from beginning to end, should range from $2,250- $3,000. Sellers typically pay $1,500 up front and the rest when the prosecution process begins (about one year after filing). Learn how to get a design patent in NYC.

3. Consider prioritized examination of the design patent application.

Expedited Examination through the USPTO’s Rocket Docket program results, in our experience, the examination process timeline cutting in half. Each art unit (i.e., technical area) at the USPTO has its own set of Examiners and some are busier than others. Nonetheless, in our experience the Rocket Docket program should cut the examination time in half. So, if a given art unit can take two years for a first action, then Rocket Docket should reduce that time to one year.

Who should consider Expedited Examination (Rocket Docket)? This expedited examination process may be worthwhile if your company has sufficient cause to know that competitors will rip off your product(s) or even your own manufacturer depending on where the manufacturing facility is located.

4. Consider filing a utility patent application in addition to or instead of a design patent application.

Unlike a design patent, the utility patent can protect the device’s general functionality and cause a much bigger headache for competitors who might be deciding to copy your product. For many Amazon sellers who are just re-purposing and redesigning well-known and existing products, a design patent application is likely sufficient and ideal. However, this does not mean that a utility patent application is off the table and should not be considered. 

When do you need a utility patent? If legitimate engineering was done in creating the product or otherwise you think the product has legitimate value, then talk to a patent attorney to explore ways a utility patent application can protect your invention and its functionality and structure.

The good news is that simple mechanical devices will typically be the lowest cost of any patent applications, so it may be worthwhile to at least inquire about filing a utility patent.

5. Enforce Intellectual Property (IP) against competitors using Amazon’s enforcement programs.

General complaints of IP infringement can be reported to Amazon, If that doesn’t work, the IP holder can move forward with Amazon’s APEX program if we believe, after an independent review, that another party is infringing on your patent. While Amazon charges each party $4,000 to move forward with this program, Amazon refunds the winner of the allegedly neutral proceeding.

6. Take multiple approaches when you file an Amazon intellectual property complaint.

Depending on the situation, we can go straight to sending a cease and desist letter to the alleged infringer of your IP. You can also file a formal complaint in court. Of course, these methods are more costly, and, depending on the seller’s business and situation, it may be better to engage with Amazon first to keep costs down.

Connect with Tatonetti IP below to discuss the next best steps to take.

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