Amazon is testing a new program to handle infringement complaints brought by patent owners against third-party retailers.
The program is called the “Utility Patent Neutral Evaluation.” The patent owner must provide a $4,000 deposit with a patent infringement complaint. The third-party retailer must provide another $4,000 deposit if they wish to respond to the complaint. Once the third-party retailer has responded, the patent owner can respond one last time.
A third-party attorney holds both deposits and performs a neutral review of the infringement complaint based on the submitted complaint and responses. Each submission cannot exceed fifteen (15) pages.
The third-party response cannot include invalidity arguments unless the USPTO or a court has already addressed this argument.
A decision is issued within a few months. If the patent owner wins, the infringing listing is removed, and the patent owner gets their deposit back. If the third-party retailer wins, the listing is maintained, and the third-party retailer gets their deposit back. If the third-party retailer decides not to participate, the listing is removed.
One limitation is that the program cannot be used for products made and offered by Amazon. Rather, the program is limited to allegations against third-party retailers selling their products through Amazon.