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The Turmoil over Bitcoin: Who Owns its Trademark and Why?
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There was a Reddit post a couple of days before about someone registering "Bitcoin" as a trademark and sending a cease and desist letter. That particular trademark was registered in the UK, dated 13 April 2018. It covers class 25 (clothing), class 32 (beverages) and class 33 (wine). A search for EU trademarks shows more results. One is the trademark originally filed in 2011 by MtGox and now owned by the Japanese exchange "Bitflyer". This trademark covers: Software for commerce over a global communications network. Electronic commerce services, namely providing information about products via telecommunication networks for advertising and sales purposes. Signal transmission for electronic commerce via telecommunication systems and data communication systems. Constructing an internet platform for electronic commerce. Another recent example is a trademark "Bitcoin" registered on April 4th of this year for group 30, which is for all sorts of candy. In contrast, if you search with "Google" or "Coca-Cola", you will find no trademarks registered by third parties for clothing or wine. That's because if anyone attempts to register such a trademark, Google or Coca-Cola will oppose the registration and stop it under Article 8 Paragraph 5 of the trademark Regulation 2017/1001. This prevents registration of a trademark that is identical to another trademark that "has a reputation in the Union". There are two reasons for this. One is that it would be unfair to Google if anybody could just go ahead and dilute their trademark. The other is that it would be unfair to give anyone an exclusive right to a valuable name when they had no part in the effort to create the value in the first place. With Bitcoin, the first aspect doesn't come into play. By design, there is no entity like Google owning the name Bitcoin. That also means that there is nobody who can oppose registration of a "Bitcoin" trademark for candy. But the second aspect is valid with Bitcoin as well. The German company Katjes, which has registered the Bitcoin candy EU trademark, had no part in the effort needed to develop Bitcoin to a $125 billion marketcap at the time of this writing. They are free-riding on the efforts of others. Which would not be a big problem if they didn't attempt to create an exclusive right for themselves. This is not possible with copyright. The open source license Bitcoin is built on makes sure that no one involved can claim any exclusive copyright on Bitcoin software. It is also not possible with patents. If you try to patent the concept of "proof of work", you should be blocked from doing so by the simple fact that this concept is public knowledge since January 3rd 2009. I think there should some way to stop people from registering copyrights for Bitcoin candy and free-riding on the good will created by others. But I don't see any such way in the existing Regulation. The closest parallel I could find would be the absolute ground for registration refusal in Article 7 Paragraph 1 (h), which stops people from registering a trademark "Germany" for candy, or the colors of the German flag. Just like Bitcoin, this is just a public interest. And just like Bitcoin, candy makers should be stopped from creating an exclusive right in a word (Germany) that has achieved fame based on something different from their own efforts. However, there is no such ground for refusal right now for "Bitcoin". That means two things. For one, every immoral actor around can race other sleazy scumbags to get a piece of the action. There are lots of goods where using the famous "Bitcoin" phrase might make sense for marketing purposes. Whoever gets his registration first will profit from the fame created by others. And in the longer term, the Regulation should be changed and terms that "have a reputation in the Union" should be off limits for registration, even if there is no trademark owner of them. (Cross-posted from my blog with links removed).
Why isn't there any bitcoin foundation to trademark the name "Bitcoin" to prevent things like Btrash trying to impersonate? It is fine to fork to new coin but leveraging the name is very confusing to customers. I know I can't create a browser to call Firefox Super without getting sued by the Mozilla foundation.
[Our Client] has not authorised your use of the Bitcoin trademark on and in relation to clothing. Such use, therefore, amounts to trademark infringement pursuant to s10(1) of the Trade Marks Act 1994. BITCOIN Trademark Similar to BLOCKCHAIN, BITCOIN is a common term to describe a type of digital currency. Currently there are 88 trademarks that have been filed with the term BITCOIN. Currently, Bitcoin (BTC) is trading at $6,620.73 with a BTC price of 4.39% down today. The market cap of Bitcoin is USD 119,876,089,483 with 18,106,162 BTC circulating currently. The 24-hour price movement chart indicates that $25,356,378,614 worth of BTC was trading. Bitcoin Trademark and Domain sold. 03 Jun 2020. When one of the world's leading Bitcoin exchanges, Mt Gox, collapsed after being hacked for a second time. The Tokyo-based company filed for bankruptcy protection and admitted it had lost around 850,000 Bitcoins due to hacking. The Bitcoin Trademark Around the World Earlier this month, a crypto enthusiast and “Bitcoin salesman” from Spain spotted the opportunity of a lifetime: he trademarked Bitcoin’s name and logo. When Cointelegraph asked him about the reason behind this bold move, he answered that he was just trying to protect his business.
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