A business entity linked to Jeff Bezos applied to trademark the name “Bezos Earth Fund” last month, providing a fleeting look into how the Amazon founder and CEO may be structuring his $10 billion effort to fight climate change.
The entity, called Fellowship Ventures LLC, was first registered in Delaware on June 10, 2019, predating Bezos’ February Earth Fund announcement.
On July 1, Fellowship Ventures filed to trademark the “Bezos Earth Fund” name for purposes including promoting public interest and awareness and financial grant services, according to U.S. Patent and Trademark Office records first reported by tech news site Recode on Friday.
In February, Bezos unveiled the “Bezos Earth Fund,” noting in a brief message next to a photo of the Earth on his Instagram account that he was “committing $10 billion to start and will begin issuing grants this summer.” He said in that post that he would “fund scientists, activists, NGOs — any effort that offers a real possibility to help preserve and protect the natural world.” Few details have been made public since.
Bezos is the world’s wealthiest person, with a net worth estimated at $187 billion by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He sold shares of Amazon stock worth about $3 billion this week.
Fellowship Ventures filed a registration statement Nov. 15, 2019, with the Washington Secretary of State. The entity was formed to conduct “any lawful business.”
Some billionaires, including Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, have set up limited liability companies (LLC) as vehicles for their donations. The structure provides more flexibility than traditional charitable foundations to make political contributions, investments and charitable grants. Charitable foundations also must make public key tax documents, opening them to greater scrutiny than LLCs.
Paul Dauber, an attorney affiliated with other Bezos entities, is named as governor of Fellowship Ventures, whose principal offices are listed in care of law firm Perkins Coie in downtown Seattle. The authorized person signing the Washington state filing is Mark Metcalf, general counsel. A person by that name describes himself on LinkedIn as working since July 2019 for a family office in the greater Seattle area. He liked posts in recent months by the general counsel of Blue Origin, the Bezos-owned rocketry company.
The USPTO database lists 24 live word marks including the Bezos name. Most appear related to Bezos’ $2 billion pledge in 2018 to fund existing nonprofits working to help homeless families and build a network of nonprofit preschools to serve low-income communities.
One trademark was filed in July by an Arizona company for a brand of mezcal — “with the word ‘Bezos’ in blue with red lips replacing the ‘o’” — and another for Bezos Mona Lisa, filed by a Louisiana painter and subsequently withdrawn. Bezos Mona Lisa was challenged this spring by Zefram LLC, another entity represented by Perkins Coie in Seattle, with Dauber listed as a governor in its Washington state corporate registration. (In the fictional “Star Trek” universe, Zefram Cochrane was the inventor of the first warp drive. Bezos is a noted Trekkie.)
As for Fellowship Ventures, Recode notes that Bezos is known to toast, “To adventure and fellowship!”