// this is a short article that I wrote in 2021 June/July about Amazon Brand Hijacking //
// the problem has been sorta-solved -- I've decided not to sell on Amazon until they fix some fundamental problems //
// - Cliff Stoll 2021 July
AMAZON BRAND HIJACKING:
2021-June-22 -- A foreign seller has
hijacked my Amazon Klein bottle listing to advertise their cheezy
"black head remover". Please order *only* from this website,
www.kleinbottle.com. If you have doubts, call me on the phone: 510 654
3958. This website, and only this website, is run by me, Cliff
It's bizarre - Amazon rebranded my Amazon listing as "Amvoom". Worse, I'm unable to remove the listing from Amazon! It's called "Brand Hijacking".
Short summary: A sleezy company
hijacked my Amazon listing to move my positive reviews over to their
First, although I've sold Klein
bottles for 25 years, I have never trademarked my business name, "Acme
Klein Bottle". It's called a "common-law trademark".
For the past 5 years, I've had a
listing on Amazon, where I sold only large Klein bottles, This
listing received 199 five-star reviews and 2 four-star reviews.
No bad reviews at all. (I'm honored, of course). My Amazon
customers are mainly parents who buy Klein bottles for their kids
around the holidays.
Well, sometime in May, Amazon
seller "Amvoom", from Shenzen China, trademarked the word
"Amvoom". On June 22nd (Amazon Prime Day), they used Amazon's
Brand Registry to re-brand my listing on Amazon (replacing my brand,
"Acme Klein Bottle" with "Amvoom") They could do this because
Amazon's Brand Registry only respects issued trademarks. In
essence, they told Amazon the they owned the Klein bottle
listing. In turn, they are now in charge of that Klein bottle
listing on Amazon. So instead of "Handmade Klein Bottle", Amazon now
lists "AMVOOM Handmade Klein Bottle".
Amvoom does not sell Klein bottles. Likely, they don't know what one is. Instead, they redirected my 199 reviews to their product (a black-head remover). They did so by adding a second "color option" for their black-head remover, which was just a pointer to my Amazon Klein bottle listing. In turn, all my reviews show up on their black-head remover. The ordinary color of their item costs $12. The oddball color shows a photo of a Klein bottle and costs $75. All the reviews are combined on their black-head remover listing, so both "colors" have five-star reviews. Their main listing shows fiver-star reviews. But if you read their reviews, you'll see the black-head device has lots of reviews talking about Klein bottles and mathematics.
To make their blackhead remover
listing look legit, Amvoom then submitted several hundred orders over
Amazon, and immediately cancelled each order. These depleted my
Klein bottle inventory on Amazon - even though nothing was paid for,
and nothing was shipped. In turn, this removed the "second color
option" for their blackhead-remover, since Amazon felt that the Klein
bottles were out of stock. Result: their black-head remover
listing got 199 positive reviews, and the Klein bottle did not show up
as a "color choice" in the Amvoom black-head listing.
After 2 days, the "Amazon Prime
Days" sale ended, and Amvoom stopped linking to their product.
However, they still "own" my listing.
Most likely Amvoom sells
(or rents) my reviews to some other Amazon seller. These are
professionals who manipulate Amazon reviews -- they sell their
services (and my reviews) to disreputable Amazon sellers. For
example the Amazon seller who listed the Amvoom black-head remover is
"TaroRee", located in Fujian China.
As a byproduct of Amvoom's
shenanagans, I am unable to edit my Amazon listing or to sell my Klein
bottles on Amazon. There is no way to appeal this to Amazon -
the Amazon Brand Registry does not accept email (only a website
pull-down menu which advertises how wonderful they are, and how to
apply for the benefits of Brand Registry). My complaints to
Amazon seller support have been ignored.
If you know someone who works at Amazon Brand Registry, please tell me. Or better yet, please tell them of the headaches this has caused.
Thanks for your understanding!
-Cliff Stoll Saturday morning June 26, in Oakland, California. And yes, I am now trademarking Acme Klein Bottle.
--- note added Saturday afternoon, June 26: right now the Amvoom black head remover, sold by TaroRee, has lots of positive reviews, many talking about a wonderful "Cooker Grill Heating Element". Hmmm - I wonder why?
// further notes, added Tuesday evening 29 June (um, almost Wednesdasy morning //
// quicklky written by Cliff and not
yet edited, in response to questions on Hacker News... //
More about this trademark: A trademark is specific to a product or group of products. For example, the word "United" is trademarked for United Airlines, but there's also United Concrete and United Sodas.
Hangteng Information Technology Co in Shenzhen, China, has
trademarked the word "Amvoom" for
specific goods of "Sphygmomanometers;
Abdominal corsets; Acupressure pillows; Breast pumps; Cervical collars;
Commode chairs; Corsets for therapeutic use; Ear thermometers; Finger
splints; Heart rate monitoring apparatus; Heart rate monitors; Human
face protectors, namely, transparent face shields for use in the medical
and dental fields; Lasers for the cosmetic treatment of the face, skin,
hair follicles; Massage apparatus; Massage apparatus for eyes; Massaging
apparatus for personal use; Medical devices, namely, pulse oximeters;
Medical isolation gowns; Protective face masks for medical use;
Respiratory masks for medical purposes; Sanitary masks for medical
wellness purposes; UV lamps for medical applications"
Notice that Amvoom's trademark does not cover goods such as Klein bottles or mathematical shapes. Indeed, they do not have a valid trademark for "Blackhead remover" Yet Amazon recognizes their trademark.
Amazon, through its "Brand Registry" allows anyone with an issued trademark to take over any brand, whether or not the brand is covered by the specific goods that the trademark was issued for.
Brand Name Hijacking takes advantage of
several bugs in Amazon's seller business model:
1) Amazon Brand Name Registry allows the owner of a USPTO trademark to take over listings of non-trademarked brands.
2) Amazon Brand Name Registry fails to limit a registered Amazon brand from over-reaching beyond the regulated goods and services associated with that trademark.
3) Amazon combines reviews of different item variations and colors, even though they are from completely different listings and manufacturers.
4) Amazon debits inventory even when an order is cancelled, allowing a denial of service attack to exhaust inventory in a seller's listing, at no cost to the attacker.
Effects of Brand Hijacking:
1) Shoddy or unproven products receive five-star reviews, apparently dating across several years.
2) Consumers, relying on Amazon star ratings, are grossly misled by the summary reviews.
3) Disreputable sellers are rewarded (at the cost of honest sellers) by large volume sales caused by high ratings.
4) Unscrupulous sellers of reviews receive money from Amazon sellers in return for inflated reviews.
5) Independent sellers on Amazon -- specifically those who deliver high customer satisfaction over many years -- are locked out of their listings and pushed out of their business.
# # # # UPDATE 2021-July-2, at 2PM Pacific time. My Amazon page has been restored. -->>Thanks to people on Hacker News <<-- especially two very kind Amazon people that emailed me from Hacker Nwes), the Amazon seller listing has been restored. THANK YOU TO HACKER NEWS PEOPLE ! (at the same time, I've run out of stock of large klein bottles, so I don't have much to sell on my now-restored Amazon listing). I am writing a paper on this; if you have a suggestion as to where to publish/post the paper, please send eamil. Thanks! -Cliff
Go to Acme's Home Page, home to plenty of one-sided Klein Bottles
The last time that Cliff changed this page was July 21, 2021.