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Amazon Tips its Hand with New Trademark Application

Posted in Copyright Law, Patent Law, Trademark Law

As you likely know, Amazon is taking the world by storm. Whether it is through its convenient offering of household goods, and pretty much anything else you can imagine, to your door, or through its expansive selection of movies and television shows provided through its Amazon Prime streaming service, Amazon is a major player in multiple industries. Recently, Amazon surprised the general public when it agreed to purchase Whole Foods Market for $13.7 billion and judging from its recently trademark application, Amazon is nowhere near done with its expansion. 

On July 6, 2017, Amazon filed a trademark application for “prepared food kits composed of meat, poultry, fish, seafood, fruit and/or vegetable.” The trademark that Amazon seeks to register is WE DO THE PREP.  YOU BE THE CHEF. Does this concept sound familiar? Perhaps even a bit like Blue Apron? If so, that’s probably because it is exactly like Blue Apron. If you aren’t familiar with Blue Apron, it is a meal-kit delivery service backed by major venture capital groups, including Fidelity and Bessemer Venture Partners. It was founded in August 2012 and has enjoyed major success to date. According to the Times Herald, as of September 2016, Blue Apron had shipped 8 million meal servings. This success led to the company going public last month.

Since that time, the value of Blue Apron’s stock has declined steadily, but it recently took its hardest hit when Amazon’s trademark application hit the public sphere, resulting in more than a ten percent drop in price per share. But what does this mean? And more importantly for purposes of this article, how is it related to intellectual property? Well, although there are likely various factors involved in the further decline of Blue Apron’s stock price, such as overvaluation, the most recent drop in stock price is likely caused by Amazon’s extraordinary goodwill.

Usually, when we discuss a mark’s goodwill, it is the product of the owner building goodwill in the mark through its use in commerce. But here, we have an instance where the mark has never been used in commerce and it already has substantial goodwill. The reason is that WE DO THE PREP. YOU BE THE CHEF. is inherently imbued with Amazon’s sizable goodwill. Not to mention, in light of the pending Whole Foods buyout, the mark is likely benefitting from Whole Foods’s goodwill, as consumers likely anticipate that Amazon will utilize Whole Foods products in its food kits. Although I don’t think that has been confirmed or even mentioned by anyone in the know, it is a reasonable assumption. Either way, it is clear that the mark is riding the coattails of its parent company and its parent company’s soon-to-be acquired subsidiary to give itself a head start into the food delivery marketplace. Whether that is indicative of future success in the marketplace remains to be seen.