Trademark gibberish is apparently the secret sauce of third-party Amazon sales

Some companies spend ages pondering the name of their brand. Others seem to throw spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks. That’s apparent from The New York Times’s fascinating review of the wild world of Amazon’s pseudo-brands. Bezos’s Big Boutique is bustling with barely decipherable brand names like BSTOEM, MZOO, and SHSTFD. (Just us, […]


February 11, 2020

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Some companies spend ages pondering the name of their brand. Others seem to throw spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks.

That’s apparent from The New York Times’s fascinating review of the wild world of Amazon’s pseudo-brands.

Bezos’s Big Boutique is bustling with barely decipherable brand names like BSTOEM, MZOO, and SHSTFD. (Just us, or does that last one sound a little too much like SHTFCD?).

They’re popping up everywhere on Amazon’s third-party marketplace.

Many of these vendors are based in China — and they sell everything

One brand, called FRETREE, hawks water jugs and inflatable hammocks. Its trademark is linked to an address at a business park in Shenzhen, China.

  • Last year, 14% of all US trademarks were filed by Chinese applicants, according to one expert. That’s up from 10% the year before.

For these overseas vendors, branding takes a back seat to selling.

  • This is especially true when it comes to commodity goods. Who really rules the market for touch-screen gloves, after all?
  • Barely there branding carries another advantage — lower risk. If a seller gets busted farming fake reviews, it’s not like barrels of branding money go down the drain.

The weird names might sound like an accident, but their success isn’t. That often depends on getting the approval of Amazon’s Brand Registry, which helps companies protect themselves from fraudsters.

Want to get registered? Let’s see that trademark

There’s another reason why these oddball names are taking off: If nothing else, they’re unique. So they sometimes have an easier path to approval.

The US Patent and Trademark Office tried to stem the tidal wave by requiring all applicants to be represented by a lawyer licensed in the US. That led to a spike in applications before the deadline, followed by a decline.

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