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WIPO- Useful for Amazon Sellers

WIPO

Intellectual property allows business owners and creators across the globe a level of security when it comes to their creations. Copyrights, Trademarks, trade dress, trade secrets and patents make up Intellectual Property. Whether you are an author or inventor, you want what you created to be protected from copycats. Theft of an idea, a business secret, or a logo can be detrimental to a business. On the Amazon platform, the exposure to millions of customers all over the world leaves sellers at risk for theft. Many American sellers know they can receive protections here in the U.S. but are unaware that they could file for protections internationally.

World Trade Organization

Many sellers are unaware of the World Trade Organization. “The World Trade Organization (WIPO) administers the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), which sets forth obligations related to intellectual property rights, including copyright and enforcement measures, in the context of a multilateral trade agreement”. These agreements are what allow creators across the globe the comfort of protections internationally.

The World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) website states that they are the “global forum for intellectual property services, policy, information, and cooperation”.

Copyright Law

Copyright law protects works of original authorship, such as novels, poems, or musical composition. On Amazon, many allegations of infringement are due to photographs being stolen. 

“The United States is a member of many treaties and conventions affecting copyright, including those administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO): the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary
and Artistic Works; the WIPO Copyright Treaty; the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty; the Geneva Convention for the Protection of Producers of Phonograms Against Unauthorized Duplication of Their Phonograms; and the Brussels Convention Relating to the Distribution of Program-Carrying Signals Transmitted by Satellite
.” Additionally, “The United States has copyright relations with most countries throughout the world, and as a result of these agreements, we honor each other’s citizens’ copyrights”. Therefore, due to these agreements, when you obtain these copyright protections you potentially will be protected on a larger spectrum.

What is a Trademark?

A trademark is “any word, name, symbol, or design, or any combination thereof, used in commerce to identify and distinguish the goods of one manufacturer or seller from those of another and to indicate the source of the goods.” Trademarks are also important to protect when running a business. “At the international level, you have two options: either you can file a trademark application with the trademark office of each country in which you are seeking protection, or you can use WIPO’s Madrid System.” The Madrid system provided by WIPO provides protection in 114 countries.

What is Trade Dress?

Trade Dress is defined as, “The overall appearance and image in the marketplace of a product or a commercial enterprise. For a product, trade dress typically comprises packaging and labeling. For an enterprise, it typically comprises design and decor. If a trade dress is distinctive and nonfunctional, it may be protected under trademark law.

Trademarks and trade dress rights are published so that all other parties may be aware of the protections. It is a businessman or woman’s responsibility when creating a label or logo to first check to see if that design is already protected. Then, it is in the best interest of an Amazon seller to protect their own logo or label.

“The Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks — the Madrid Protocol — is one of two treaties comprising the Madrid System for international registration of trademarks […] It provides a cost-effective and efficient way for trademark holders — individuals and businesses — to ensure protection for their marks in multiple countries through the filing of one application with a single office, in one language, with one set of fees, in one currency”.

What are Trade Secrets?

Trade Secrets are “a formula, process, device, or other business information that is kept confidential to maintain an advantage over competitors; information — including a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique, or process — that (1) derives independent economic value, actual or potential, from not being generally known or readily ascertainable by others who can obtain economic value from its disclosure or use, and (2) is the subject of reasonable efforts, under the circumstances, to maintain its secrecy.”

What are Patents?

Patents protect ideas such as inventions or technological processes. Amazon.com themselves have been in lawsuits relating to patent infringement based on their own behavior, not just their seller’s behavior.

“Almost every country has its own patent law, and a person desiring a patent in a particular country must make an application for patent in that country, in accordance with the requirements of that country.  Similarly, local laws apply to trademark, copyrights, and other forms of intellectual property in each jurisdiction”. It will be up to you as a seller to determine where you wish to obtain your protections. Fortunately, there are treaties that allow protections in multiple countries. “The Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) streamlines the process of filing patents in multiple countries. By filing one patent application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), U.S. applicants can concurrently seek protection in up to 143 countries”.

The International Patent System (PCT) has 152 contracting states and is the office that assists other offices to grant patents. In order to obtain protection, you would file an international patent application with the PCT. “The IP services that WIPO offers, such as the facilitation of international patent protection under the PCT System, complement services available at the national and/or regional level. It’s important to remember that WIPO does not actually grant patents per se; the grant or refusal of a patent still rests with the relevant national or regional patent office.

As a seller on Amazon, it may be in your best interest to obtain intellectual property protections. These legal issues should be handled by an attorney who understands the laws and knows how to file the best application for your product. At Amazon Sellers Lawyer, we have been successful in obtaining protections for our clients. We are eager to work with businesses not only to assist when suspensions occur but also to help your business have protections for the future.

By Nicole Kulaga, Law Student and, Hopefully, Future Associate Attorney of our Rosenbaum Famularo, P.C., the law firm behind AmazonSellersLawyer.com

Rosenbaum-Famularo

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