#263 – Have a Great Amazon Product? Here’s How to Protect Your Intellectual Property
If you have experience selling on Amazon, you know that protecting your valuable intellectual property (IP) is a must! The question is, how to do that without spending a fortune on attorney’s fees?
That’s why today on the Serious Sellers Podcast, Helium 10’s Director of Training and Chief Evangelist, Bradley Sutton welcomes Rich Goldstein, a renowned e-commerce patent attorney, speaker, podcast host, and author to talk about the latest IP strategies for Amazon sellers.
As an added bonus, Rich and Bradley speak about a number of ways that e-commerce sellers who might now be thinking about traveling again can “hack” their way into business-class seating, and other amenities that make travel in 2021 much more pleasant.
Travel AND IP advice, who doesn’t need a little bit of both? In episode 263 of the Serious Sellers Podcast, Bradley and Rich discuss:
- 03:30 – Travel Hacks for 2021
- 05:30 – There’s Always Another Level Above
- 07:30 – Amazon Intellectual Property (IP) Horror Stories
- 11:00 – Amazon Tends to Defer to the IP Owner
- 14:00 – Shutting Down 40 Copycat Amazon Sellers
- 15:30 – When to Look Closer at IP Protection
- 21:00 – Is There an Inexpensive Way to Help Sellers?
- 22:40 – Design Patent Versus Utility Patent
- 25:00 – How Amazon Helped Change Patent Rules
- 28:30 – A Simple Description Gives Additional Patent Protection
- 30:30 – What About Chinese Patents?
- 34:00 – Using Patents as Amazon Product Research
- 37:00 – A Supercharged Brand Registry Hack
- 39:15 – How to Contact Rich
Enjoy this episode? Be sure to check out our previous episodes for even more content to propel you to Amazon FBA Seller success! And don’t forget to “Like” our Facebook page and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Google Play or wherever you listen to our podcast.
Want to absolutely start crushing it on Amazon? Here are few carefully curated resources to get you started:
- Freedom Ticket: Taught by Amazon thought leader Kevin King, get A-Z Amazon strategies and techniques for establishing and solidifying your business.
- Ultimate Resource Guide: Discover the best tools and services to help you dominate on Amazon.
- Helium 10: 20+ software tools to boost your entire sales pipeline from product research to customer communication and Amazon refund automation. Make running a successful Amazon business easier with better data and insights. See what our customers have to say.
- Helium 10 Chrome Extension: Verify your Amazon product idea and validate how lucrative it can be with over a dozen data metrics and profitability estimation.
- SellerTradmarks.com: Trademarks are vital for protecting your Amazon brand from hijackers, and sellertrademarks.com provides a streamlined process for helping you get one.
Bradley Sutton: Today, we’ve got the Amazon world’s foremost expert on patents. He’s back to talk about all you wanted to know about patents, trademarks, and he even has a lot of cool travel hacks for us. How cool is that? Pretty cool, I think.
Bradley Sutton: Hello everybody, and welcome to another episode of the Serious Sellers Podcast by Helium 10. I am your host Bradley Sutton, and this is the show that’s a completely BS-free, unscripted, and unrehearsed organic conversation about serious strategies for serious sellers of any level in the Amazon world. And we’ve got back here on the show for the first time since, Hmm. I want to say maybe early 2020, late 2019, we’ve got Rich Goldstein in the house. Rich, how’s it going?
Rich: It’s going great, Bradley. Yeah. And I remember it well coming to the Helium 10 offices to shoot the last podcast.
Bradley Sutton: Yeah, you’re one of the few to actually record in the office there. And obviously, that is no longer. Yeah. I record everything from my– I recreate that studio here at my house. And so everything is here and I don’t think anybody’s coming to my house to record the podcast. So it’s all mobile now. You still in Jersey?
Rich: Awesome. I am, I’m in Jersey. And so then I guess I remain among the few, like if you’ve retired that studio, then I will be among the few that ever record.
Bradley Sutton: Yeah. That studio is now retired. We still have it and use it for other things, but not podcasting. Now, you’re flying out here. Well, first thing I want to talk about, you’re flying out here for the Prosper show. You like me are kind of probably a little bit higher level than me, somewhat of a travel hacker with your frequent flyer miles and things. Now for United, are you that premiere 1k thing?
Rich: I am. I am indeed a premiere 1K.
Bradley Sutton: How does one get there, like do you just travel that much, that you just qualified, or did you do one of that status match things or what?
Rich: No, just lots of traveling.
Bradley Sutton: When you get on a four or five, six-hour flight or international 10-hour flights and you’re in coach, especially a tall guy like me, six foot three. I mean, I’m just in a bad mood. I’m not going to get whatever I wanted to do in a great way when I’m flying economy, but at the same time, we also, she didn’t live beyond our means. And so that’s where this whole travel hacking comes in. And how do you stack points and how do you upgrade and things like that. So, I know you’ve gotten that high status there. My highest status is actually in Hilton. That’s how I’m always able to stay in the Maldives at the $25,000 a night room for free because of my Hilton status. What other things like travel hacking or statuses do you do to kind of make traveling better for you?
Rich: First of all, the TSA pre and clear is awesome. It means like at most airports, not only is the line shorter for TSA pre, but you just sail right through. Usually, there is absolutely no line for clear, there may be aligned for TSA, pre 50 people in front of you, where there was– there’d be 500 people in front of you that didn’t have TSA pre. But clearly, I don’t think I’ve ever gone to an airport when there was a line. It’s like you find with the clearest and as fast as you can walk to that, up to the counter is as fast as you could actually get it done and get into the security lane to get processed.
Bradley Sutton: Let me give some of mine. One of them I’ve talked about before. One I actually learned from Tim Jordan is the Founder’s card. That’s a really cool card to get you like some elite status is like easier on certain airlines and hotels, and then certain discounts in, and like Caesar’s palace in Vegas, you always get upgrades and free upgrades and founder’s card it’s kind of expensive for a year, but it easily can pay for itself. Another thing I highly suggest for US citizens is to stack these things, try and get the global entry, which at the TSA and the clear and me, I am terrible guys. Like I’m terrible at cutting it close to get on flights and things like that. I’m always like last second, and there’s like, no way I would make these flights, but I’ve got the Clear plus the TSA, which I got through the global entry program. And basically what that means is, especially if I don’t have a check-in luggage, I just get to the airport, I just scan my eyeball on this thing. And a Clear representative walks me right through. I don’t even have to take out my ID. He walks me right through security and I go to the front of the line, like literally saving 30 minutes plus, especially in some of these busy airports. So stacking clear with the TSA, and then I don’t have to take off my shoes. I don’t have to take off my jacket. I don’t have to take the laptops out of my bag. And then when you’re coming into the country, that’s where global entry comes in. Like I go back and forth with Mexico all the time. I just go right through the customs and don’t even have to use it. I don’t have to show my passport.
Rich: By the way, just a final point is like, you look ahead toward that status and you say like, well, someday I’ll get to be that, whatever it is, like, even if it could be related to frequent flyers and airlines, it can be related to something else. And then you discover that there’s always something above that, that you just, when you think you’ve arrived, you haven’t. So in the case of what we’re talking about here, I’m a 1K on United, which is the highest published status that they have, but there’s always the unpowered published status, which is global services. So, they’ve got something called global services. I’m sure, when you’ve boarded, they’ve said, like first one on the plane, global services, like, well, what’s that? That’s the status that they give to people, kind of by a phone call, you just got a phone call one day and say, Hey, you’re in. And usually it’s the people that travel to Asia 10 times a year in business class that spend like 50,000 a year on airfare that get invited to be in global services. And those guys get the most special treatment I’ve heard. Like they’ll even hold a plane for you at times. And you’re running late on a connection. I’ve heard at certain airports, I don’t think they do this anymore, but a certain point they had like you get driven across the tarmac to your connection by Mercedes.
Bradley Sutton: Wow. Yeah. There’s always just when you think you’ve reached the Zenith, there’s always another level.
Rich: There’s always another level.
Bradley Sutton: Anyways, we’ve been talking about travel hacks and strategies, which I think is very relevant to e-commerce entrepreneurs out there, but let’s go back to something else. You don’t sell an Amazon yourself, but now in the past year and a half, you’ve probably dealt with hundreds, if not thousands, more Amazon sellers with what you’re doing and your expertise and mainly that’s looking at patents as a patent attorney, you obviously, people can say, oh yeah, I’m going to look up patents, but very few can actually say they’re an actual attorney in this. And so you definitely know your stuff. So, I mean, you had experience with Amazon sellers when I first met you, but I’m sure it’s just exponentially increased lately. So I’m just curious. Can you give some anecdotes, some things that you have dealt with with sellers on the positive side and the negative side in the last year and a half? Where it’s like, Hey, we didn’t have a patent and we got one, we were able to kick all these people out, or the opposite side, like, Hey, I started, you heard of a Amazon seller who started their product and they didn’t realize it was patented and they lost thousands of dollars, but can you just give us some like real life situations here that our listeners can learn from?
Rich: Yeah. Like, first of all, all of the above, all of that happens. And so yeah, I mean, I was in a situation with a client who was about to sell their business for several million dollars and like, they were going to clear escrow the following day and kind of get their money. All of the, like, everything had been accounted for, all the inventory and such, all the numbers were reconciled. They were basically ready to close and their account got shut down for an IP complaint due to patent infringement. And it got really, really weird because yeah, let’s see how much detail I could go into here, but essentially they were in a situation where they thought they had a white labeled product like that they had a product that they kind of originated, but it was more or less white labeled. They’d never gone for a patent on it. And the manufacturer had assured them that they were the first to create it, that they basically created it for them from the sketches, from their drawings. But then that manufacturer went on to sell it to other people. And then essentially at a certain point, one of those customers has asked, could we get the patent for this? And the manufacturer cooperated and helped them get the patents. So, essentially if that didn’t get too confusing with the fact pattern there. So, essentially a third party ended up with the patent on that product. They had never been concerned about getting a patent on it. But through some confusion of the manufacturer, a third-party ended up with the patent and they were on the cusp of closing the sale of their business when they discovered through an IP complaint that someone else had the patent. And so, I mean, if you could put yourself in their shoes and imagine about collecting millions, and then you get this IP complaint, I mean, simply devastating. It took some work to undo. And ultimately, I think part of the situation was remedied that the person that made the complaint, like realizing that it was just– that it was kind of a dirty, underhanded thing to do. And they backed off. Like they had some basically their conscience got to them and they said this is not the way they want it to behave. But, if not for that, that wholesale could have just fallen through.
Bradley Sutton: Now. Now what– obviously hindsight is 2020, but maybe a year or six months before this all went down, what should they have done? And how much would it have cost them to do it?
Rich: Yeah. What they should have done is filed a patent for the design that they created, because it really was just a design patent, which is just for the way in which the product looks, whether you want a mental appearance of the product. So, if they had actually gone ahead and obtained the patent, then essentially that would have prevented this other person from obtaining a patent. Here’s the thing, here’s the big lesson I think on Amazon is that Amazon tends to differ toward the IP owner. And that’s why it pays to be the IP owner. It pays to be the one holding the patent. And so even at times when you think like, well, I don’t know that I really care. Like if other people come along and they just start selling similar products, I don’t care. I’m just going to make it, I’m going to make money with my listing. I’m not concerned about them. That’s fine. But sometimes even as a defensive posture, you need to be the one holding the patent.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. So that was a negative that, I mean, it was actually somewhat of a positive, I guess, because it’s very rare that people who do this kind of thing have a crisis of conscience there. So, that was kind of a positive in itself, but they dodged a bullet there. So, that’s the negative side of like, Hey, yeah, everybody wants to save a buck here or there and yet, Hey guys, we’re going to keep it real getting patents and going through the process is not like going to legal zoom or getting a $300 German trade marker or something cheap. It costs a few thousand dollars, but they could have potentially lost, it sounds like millions of dollars if in this, so we could see how it’s definitely worth it, but what’s on the flip side, like maybe a positive thing, like somebody did do the right thing when they should have, and because of that, they were able to protect their product or they were able to kick off a hijack or something like that.
Rich: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I have a friend who applied for a patent at the time that they were launching the product, which by the way, that’s when you want to apply for it is before you lodge. In certain circumstances, you can still apply after you launch, after you make it public. But if a year goes by, since you made it public, then you’ve lost the rights forever. And too many people wait too long. They don’t happen to know about that rule with regard to absolutely losing the rights if a year has gone by. But they wait a year and a half and then they come to me and I have to tell them, I’d love to help you, but I really can’t. We can’t get a patent anymore and they’ll usually say, well, how would I have known that? How would I have known that if I’d make the product public, I lose the rights to the invention. And the answer is, I guess you wouldn’t. And that’s why I make a point of getting that point across. And I took a little diversion from the story here to say that piece, essentially when he applied for the patent, he launched the product, he noticed over the next six months that people love the product, including people that love to copy it. And so, he noticed that other people started to make identical products, products that looked exactly like his, selling it on Amazon, the design patent issued. In other words, it was granted, it became a patent. And then as he puts it on one glorious day, he shut down 40 other sellers with his design patent.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. Now, we did talk about the reality of the situation that it’s expensive and you know what, to be honest, there are some situations where maybe it’s not suggested like, Hey, you’re a brand new seller. You barely got $5,000 to invest in your first product. You’re not exactly able to go invest a few thousand dollars in. At what point does an Amazon or any e-commerce seller for that matter. At what point should one take a hard look and say, you know what, I need to look into getting this done.
Rich: Well, I would say a couple things about that. I mean, first of all, you want to be judicious when you spend money on IP, and there’s often a lot of things that you can spend money on with regards to IP that don’t necessarily give you bang for your buck. You could spend your tens of thousands of dollars on patents and end up with something that’s really pretty useless, like a patent that really doesn’t, that’s rather narrow and limited, and doesn’t give you much ability to prevent competition. So, you want to be careful about what you spend your money on. And also a lot of products just aren’t that different. Like if you’re white labeling a product is probably nothing to patent. What you really want to do is be on the lookout for those products that really have potential. And it’s not just selling another gift idea, product or selling and all the one of 10 of something that’s out there already, but you see something that’s worthwhile, then it might pay to dig deep to get that patent to apply for the patent. I’d also say, you mentioned like a 5,000, like investing $5,000 into launching a product. Yeah. I mean, it might not pay to spend about the same amount of money to get a design patent, but if you’re spending a hundred K, if you’ve spent 50K for your first order, and plus you’ve got other expenses in the marketing, I mean, you probably want to spend a fair proportion of that to protect your investment, right. I mean, so if you’re spending a hundred K, it might make sense to spend 10K. If you’re spending 50K it might make sense to spend 5k on a design patent. One way to look at it, first of all, is to look at what you’re investing, but you can also look at the upside, like if you’re investing 5k, but you know that this is going to be a 10K a month product. You’ve just seen it from experience. Maybe it just doesn’t cost that much to launch this product, but you know that it’s going to be a 10K a month product or 120K a year. Then you might want to look toward that as well. And then even though it might be inexpensive to launch it, um, if you know what you’re trying to do is prevent other people from jumping there on that listing then kind of recouping two weeks worth of sales then gets you your 5k back. And I’ve seen that many times before where like, it’s like you spend, let’s say 5k total on a design patent.
Rich: It turns out to be a hundred thousand dollar a month product. And then you notice like all the people selling similar products, and they might imagine they cut into your market share by 10, 20%. So, now all of a sudden you’re losing 10 to $20,000 a month. If you could slow down those competitors by even a few weeks, you recoup your investment. So yeah, everything in proportion. So, I guess that’s really my overall answer to your question about like when, and like, when it pays and especially with that scenario of like, if you’ve only got 5k, you probably don’t want to spend that on a patent because then you left with no other resources to launch. And here’s the thing, my favorite definition of sustainability is that you’re participating in a way that leaves you more able to participate. That means you’re not depleting all your resources on one product. And a lot of people will tell you this too, regardless of what you’re doing in business is don’t use all your resources on one project, or one product or one business because that business, that product, that project isn’t necessarily going to hit it. It might just be the project that gives you the experience to hit it with the second or the third one. But in order to be able to do the second or third one, you have to not deplete yourself on that first one.
Bradley Sutton: All right, guys, quick break from this episode for my BTS, Bradley’s 30 seconds. Here’s my 30-second tip. We’ve been talking about travel hacks in this episode, and here’s another one. Rich was talking about how he likes always flying first class and business class. But the fact of the matter is sometimes it might be too expensive. I was looking at this one international flight one way, only it was actually on Turkish airlines and for business class, it was $5,000 now, I don’t care how rich I could be one day. I’m never going to be the kind of person who’s like, I’m going to pay, I’m going to afford $5,000 for a one-way international flights. And I was like, you know what, I’m just paying the $600 for economy. But what I did was, I was doing some research and I started trying this and it worked about 50% of the time. When I go to the airport to get my boarding pass, I had to ask him, I was like, Hey, do you have any upgrades available for business class? And they gave it to me for 900 bucks. All right. So, that was a 1400 or $1,500. I was out for that flight. Whereas if I would have bought it, it would have been $5,000. Just ask. It can’t hurt, especially on international flights. Check in early and then ask them at the counter. Do they have any available leave for upgrade? And you can usually get it for a steal.
Bradley Sutton: I hear people asking about this more and more when they’re doing their product research. And maybe they come up with like 15, 20 potential products that seem to have opportunity. And they use whatever they– whether it’s helium 10 tools or whatever they’re doing to try and narrow that down a little bit more. And then when it gets down to like five or six, common word of advice, people say, Hey, just, make sure that first there’s no patent on it. Now, it might not be feasible. I would imagine to always use a professional like yourself for every single– I’ve got 11 ideas. Let me pay you guys to look up all 11 of these, but is there a layman’s way to at least start the process of searching if there’s existing patents, like when we talk about trademarks, we don’t need an attorney for that. We can just go, Hey, let me just check US PTO database. And I’m going to see if this word mark exists. Is there something like that for patents that somebody could do on their own?
Rich: Yeah. Well, first of all, the uspto.gov, you can also look up patents, but a friendliest search engine is the Google patents search engine. So that’s the patents, patents.google.com. Okay. And that’s, it works like any other Google search, you just type in a query and it pulls up some patents. It’s far from comprehensive though. It’s not the best way to find the closest thing. You type in, can opener, it will pull up, some can openers for us, but it’s not necessarily going to pull up the can opener that’s just like what you have in mind. But it is a good way to get started. So that’s the way that you can do something on your own.
Bradley Sutton: All right now, the last time, I think you forgot what the definitions are, but I know we talked about the difference between design patents and utility patents. So if you could just briefly review again, the difference, and then for Amazon sellers, what are the majority doing, as far as one or the other?
Rich: Okay, great. So, first of all, a design patent is just about the appearance of a product, it’s about the shape. So think of like a telephone shaped like a duck, right? The design patent is for that unique design, that unique appearance. Like there’s nothing about the duck that changes the duck shape that changes the functionality. So, it’s not about the way that this phone functions, it’s about this unique shape. That’s what a design pattern is for. A utility patent is for the structural differences, the functional differences, the things that make it work better than previous inventions. That’s what a utility patent is for. So, you think about someone inventing something in their garage, they’re trying to find a better way to spend soap at your kitchen sink, and they come up with a unique structure. That’s what a utility patent would be for. So, now a design patent is much less expensive than a utility patent. A few thousand dollars for a design patent. Utility patent, definitely north of 10K. And so it costs a lot more to get a utility patent than a design patent. A couple other important differences here, and then I’ll get to Amazon and tell you how it works there. So, design patent again, is all about the appearance. So it’s all about the way that the product looks, the way that you infringe a design patent is by having a substantially similar appearing product. So your product appears substantially similar. That’s how you infringe. So it’s visual when it comes to utility patents, the way that an invention is defined for the purpose of infringement is with something called patent claims. Patent claims are a series of sentences at the end of the patent that lay forth kind of in words, all of the items that need to be present for you to infringe the patent.
Rich: So for example, it could be for a table having a platform, having a bottom surface, having corners and having four legs extending downward from the corners of the bottom surface. So that type of definition is how you compare, whether you’re infringing that patent. So, you infringe it through words. And often, traditionally through my career, I’ve been doing this for 27 years. People look at utility patents as being more valuable because while it covers a concept. With a design patent, you change the way it looks and you get around the patent. That’s been the conventional thinking, but now enter Amazon. Different scenario for a couple of reasons. Number one, when it comes to a design patent, it’s just about the appearance. And infringement happens just through the appearance. So, if someone has a similar product to yours, it looks just like yours. You have a design patent, you make an IP complaint through your seller account. And Amazon gets your IP complaint. They look at the product, they look at the pictures, right? They look at the drawings in your patent. They say, oh, well, it looks the same. And they shut down the competitor. When it comes through utility patents, they would have to review some type of definition in words of a platform, having corners with legs, extending downwardly from the corners of the platform. And believe me, it gets a lot more complicated than that. And so Amazon just basically throws up their hands and they say, well, you don’t know what to do with this. So, it’s easy to have something to shut down with a design patent, with a utility patent, not so easy. And actually Amazon now has a process that involves third party patent attorneys, where you have to go through this whole process to get someone shut down because of utility patents. So, conventionally you say utility patents are really valuable, design patents are not. On Amazon it’s kind of the other way around.
Bradley Sutton: Now in the real world, as far as from a legal standpoint, what’s the basis on if something is considered, I don’t know if the words infringing or going against a patent, like, does it have to be X percent different than what was patented? Or how does that even work?
Rich: Yeah, great question. The way that it works is through those patent claims. And so like, again, there’s that definition of what needs to be present to be infringing. Like if the definition is a table having a platform, having a top surface and a bottom surface, with four corners, legs extending down when leaving from the platform, then you look to see if the infringing product meets each and every one of those elements, we call claim limitations. So it is a platform, it has a bottom surface, it has quarters and it has four legs extending downwardly. If it doesn’t have all of that, it’s not infringing. So in order to infringe, it has to have everything present in at least one of those claims. They’re called independent claims. I don’t want to get too complicated on it, but essentially that’s it needs to have everything present in that claim to infringe. And by the way, there’s just a little lesson here of what could be helpful to you as a person seeking a patent. When we’re writing a patent, when we’re producing a patent application, we want to have that definition be as simple as possible. Like the platform, four corners, four legs, that’s it, because then it’s really hard for people to get around that definition. And we can make a definition that’s as big as that, or as broad as that, if there isn’t anything like it. Once there are things like it, oh, there are the tables with a platform with four legs and four corners. Then all of a sudden, now we’re having to add things about some wheels or about like a drawer or about some other elements to it in order to get the patent through.
Rich: But now once we get that patent through, with all those added pieces, the competitor needs to have all of those things to infringe. So now your patent is more limited. It’s more narrow. And that’s an important thing to know is, if you’re going to go for a utility patent, you want to know, not just that you can get a patent, that’s just the beginning. You want to know that you can get a patent that’s broad, that covers a lot because you are able to create a very simple definition of the product that then if a competitor looks at it, they say, I can’t get around this. I can’t do anything different. This is too simple. This is too simple of a definition. There’s no piece that I could eliminate to avoid infringing this patent. So why even bother? Why even bother trying to copy it. And then you’ve got a valuable patent.
Bradley Sutton: From the time that somebody starts this process. Like they hire you to start the process of getting a design patent to actually have the patent published. How many months are we talking?
Rich: It’s typically about a year. I think, a year or two, a year and a half the most.
Bradley Sutton: At what point can you say patent pending then?
Rich: At the point at which you actually applied for the patent. So, once the application is prepared and filed, which usually within a couple of months, that can be taken care of, once it’s prepared and filed, then it’s patent pending, then you could mark it patent pending, put it on your listing that it’s a patent pending product, et cetera.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. Something we didn’t talk about last time and I know nothing about, I’m not even sure if you know about it, or I’m guessing you know a lot of things, but Chinese patents, like, is this something that you see more people doing? Are these enforceable in China? Are they useless? Do you suggest people get a patent both in the United States and in China, of course, if the product is made in China, what do you know about Chinese patents?
Rich: So, a few things. I mean, first of all, the biggest reason to get a Chinese patent is if you want to sell your product in China. So, if you’re worried about it being manufactured there, but you’re really only concerned about the US market for selling the product. Then you probably don’t need a Chinese patent. And that’s true around the world. It’s like patents are territorial. Typically they prevent someone else from making, using, or selling the product. So a US patent is great if you want to prevent someone from making, using or selling the product in the US. If you are worried about them making it in China and bringing them here, again, selling the product in the US is still an infringement. So, generally, if the US is the only market you are really concerned with, then a US patent is all you probably need. If there are all the foreign markets that you want protection, and then you typically would, you’d want to file patents there. And usually the way that it goes is that you file the patent in one place, let’s say in the US, and then within six months you would then file in foreign countries where you want protection. And that’s the case for design patents. You could file, let’s say then in China, six months later and still get priority from your US application. So if someone filed the same in China, after you filed a US application, but before you filed in China, you would still be ahead of them because of priority from the US. And by the way, for utility patents, the rule is one year. Within one year, then you file foreign patent applications. The one thing though, I’d have to say, though, if we’re going to talk about filing patents in China, and maybe you don’t really need a patent, unless– you don’t really need a patent unless you want to sell the product. Not necessarily the case for trademarks. There are a lot of bad actors out there that what they’ve been doing is getting your trademark in China and then preventing you from exporting the product.
Bradley Sutton: Hmm. I think I’ve heard about that. Yeah.
Rich: Yeah, exactly. And to be honest, I’ve heard about it too. I’m not involved in litigation, so I’ve never been directly involved in it, but I have many people who have told me that this has happened and that I know one in particular that we both know who said it’s happened to him. But the point is, if you are manufacturing in China, it might pay to get a Chinese trademark. And you might consider getting the trademark both in English and also translated into Chinese. There are actually two different trademarks, and translated into Chinese is helpful, especially if your boxes are marked in or your cartons are marked in Chinese that could be the reason that someone prevents you from exporting your own product from China, because they get you your trademark for the trademark translated into Chinese, and they’re able to stop you from exporting your product.
Bradley Sutton: Okay. Yeah, that obviously would be somewhat of an inconvenience, I think if that happened. Switching gears, something I’ve heard you speak about before, but it’s not something that somebody naturally thinks about when they think about patents, but how studying patents can actually be a form of Amazon product research.
Rich: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. That’s a great question. So, here’s the thing, patents expire, and when they expire they’re fair game. In other words, once the patent expires, it becomes part of what’s called the public domain, meaning anyone can then make that product. So, I think what you’re hinting at here is that you can do product research, looking at expired patents and finding patents, which may never really hit the light of day. There’s a lot of patents out there, a lot of things that people patent that will be good ideas that don’t necessarily make it to the market. And if you find something from, let’s say, 20, 25 years ago in an expired patent, then you now kind of have a great idea of something that you can produce. And that, again, that patent that is no barrier to you producing it. The other interesting thing about that is whenever someone applies for a patent, they need to provide what’s called an enabling disclosure. So, an enabling disclosure means that you need to provide enough information to enable someone in the field to actually produce the product without too much experimentation. So, there’s no dimension. And there might not be every screw or a piece of hardware described in the patent, but essentially there’s enough info. There needs to be enough information for someone to build it, which means that if you find a patent for cool idea that’s expired and now fair game, not only are you free to make it, but you’ve got a lot of info on how to do so.
Bradley Sutton: Okay, cool. Now, we usually close the show with various TST, TST 30-second tips. So, let’s go ahead and do that. What haven’t we talked about, it doesn’t have to be 30 seconds, but on the faster side here, so we can get a couple of them in, but what are some things are relating to Amazon sellers or e-commerce sellers that has to do with your specialties here, either travel hacks again, or patent patent related things or trademarks or anything. What are some things that you’ve learned over the last year and a half that you think can help our listeners out there?
Rich: Yeah. Well, here’s a quick one. I mean, I think most people know that trademarks, a registered trademark is necessary for brand registry, but Amazon was giving certain law firms the ability using the IP accelerator program to get there basically once they apply for the trademark, that they then could get brand registry for the client. Now, this has just changed recently where you don’t need to go through one of those IP accelerated law firms. If you apply for the trademark, you can then submit for brand registry through your seller account based upon the application. Amazon will monitor it by the way, and if you don’t end up getting the trademark, they will take the brand registry away. But that’s an interesting turn over the last so many months is that you can get a brand registry with a pending trademark application and you don’t need to use an IP accelerator attorney.
Bradley Sutton: All right. So Rich, other than Prosper, what’s your conference schedule looking at the rest of the year? I’m doing white label expo in September in Vegas, and I’m doing, I think there’s an ASD show. I’m speaking at some, not the actual ASD show, but like one of those smaller events around there I’m doing, what’s it called? Retail X in Chicago, trafficking conversions. Are you going to be at all of those and what other ones haven’t I mentioned?
Rich: Okay. Well, let’s see. So, yeah, so I’m going to Prosper, and there are a bunch of events happening there. I’ve got a booth there. It’s going to be a blast, but I’m not going to sleep one bit. The following week I’m going to the digital marketers war room in Laguna beach. And then, let’s see, going to a mastermind called board of advisors in Florida in August. In September, yeah. I’m going to traffic conversion and then I’m going from traffic and conversion to billion dollars seller summit.
Bradley Sutton: I forgot about that one. I’ll be there at that one too.
Rich: Yep. Kevin King’s Billion Dollar Seller Summit, awesome event. I’ll be speaking at that. Actually going to be talking about patent infringement and how pat infringement works, going to dig deep into that. That’ll be fun. And then, after that, I’m going right to Orlando for funnel hacking live. And then that rounds out September. There’s a bunch more after that.
Bradley Sutton: Keeping that premier 1K status strong with all that travel. I love it. All right, Rich, if people have further questions either about travel hacking or about patents, trademarks and all this fun stuff here, how can they find you on the inter webs?
Rich: Yeah. Just check out my website, goldsteinpatentlaw.com. There are great resources there for learning about the process. You might want to also check out my podcast, which Bradley you have to come on.
Bradley Sutton: I will.
Rich: We haven’t– that’s something we haven’t done, but I’ve had like, lots of our common friends on there, like Kevin King, and Brandon Young and Steve Simons and all those guys. And so you’ve got to come on, but the podcast is called Innovations and Breakthroughs. And there’s just awesome stories from people who’ve been down this road. So, check that out anywhere podcasts are streamed and again, website goldsteinpatentlaw.com.
Bradley Sutton: Excellent. Excellent. All right. Rich, it’ll be fun to see you at these upcoming events and as always thanks for the hookups and letting me get to business or first class sometimes on United. Appreciate it.
Rich: All right. Thanks, Bradley.
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