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This article applies to selling in: United States

Intellectual Property Policy for Sellers - FAQ about Patents

A patent is a type of intellectual property (IP) that protects inventions.


  1. What is a patent?

    A patent is a form of legal protection for inventions. An issued patent grants its owner the right to exclude others from making, using, offering to sell, selling, or importing the invention into the United States for a fixed number of years.

  2. Are there different types of patents?

    There are two principal types of patents in the United States: Utility patents and Design patents.

    Utility patents, the most common kind of patent, may be granted for a new machine, articles of manufacture, composition of matter, process, or improvement to any of those, and generally protect the structure and functions of a product rather than how it looks.

    Design patents, on the other hand, may be granted for the unique look of a product, but do not cover the structure or functions of a product.

  3. How are patents different from trademarks and copyrights?

    A patent is different from a trademark in that it protects an invention (such as a new machine) rather than a word or logo used to identify the source of the product (such as the brand name of the product). A patent is different from a copyright in that it does not protect the expressive content of a creative work like a book or a picture, but protects a specific invention, such as a new method of printing books or a new type of camera.

    The United States Patent and Trademark Office offers resources to learn more about patents.

  4. How can I make sure that I do not violate someone’s patent when selling on Amazon?

    The manufacturer or distributor of a product might be able to assist you with patent-related issues. If you are unsure whether your content or product violates someone else’s patent, you should consult a lawyer before listing on Amazon.

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