A the latest dispute above trademark possession to the title of meme-fueled Dogecoin highlights the importance of trademark rights in the at any time-escalating planet of cryptocurrencies.

Initially designed in 2013 by two engineers as a joke, Dogecoin has due to the fact meteorically risen in level of popularity and value, acquiring received a sector capitalization as high as $80 billion previously this yr.

The 2013 founders did not implement for a trademark for Dogecoin until 2021, when the founders’ Colorado-based mostly non-profit, the Dogecoin Basis, filed an application with the USPTO this past August.

At this time, there are at the very least 100 other cryptocurrencies—not linked with the unique Dogecoin or Dogecoin Foundation—that make the most of the Dogecoin name. Introducing to the probable confusion, a Prepare dinner Islands-primarily based corporation, Moon Rabbit AngoZaibatsu, also unaffiliated with the Colorado-centered Dogecoin Foundation, lately utilized for a trademark for Dogecoin previously this calendar year. And Moon Rabbit AngoZaibatsu’s founder produced his very own Prepare dinner Islands “Dogecoin Foundation” centered on a stated belief that the Colorado-primarily based Dogecoin Foundation was abandoned.[1]

Now the unique Colorado-based mostly Dogecoin Basis is attempting to assert its rights to the Dogecoin identify. The firm claimed that the Prepare dinner Islands Dogecoin is trying to find to unfairly gain off the goodwill Dogecoin designed, and in August sent a desire letter to still one more challenge, named Dogecoin 2., requesting the task change its name.

These disputes will get time to take care of, and spotlight the ramifications of not working to secure mental house (here, trademark) legal rights at the outset, i.e., when kicking off a undertaking and producing and naming a cryptocurrency. Procuring trademark legal rights to cryptocurrencies is not as straightforward as obtaining a trademark for a business identify, or a generic excellent or services.

A trademark is a term, name, image, structure, or phrase utilized to identify and distinguish a merchandise or assistance and to suggest the supply of the products or support. The needs can pose troubles when making an attempt to trademark a cryptocurrency.

A cryptocurrency may not qualify as a product or service or assistance if its sole functionality is basically as a medium of exchange, this kind of as a regular forex. Even so, a fantastic or support associated with a function could empower a cryptocurrency title to be trademarked. Illustrations of goods and companies descriptions contained in registered emblems connected with cryptocurrencies are instructive:

  • “Providing on-line non-downloadable laptop or computer application for use as a cryptocurrency wallet” (Course 42, for “Turtlecoin” reg. no. 5846770)

  • “Software as a company (SAAS) products and services featuring application for independent and integrative use of Cryptocurrency.” (Course 42, for “Safecoin,” reg. no. 4822808) and,

  • “Design, advancement, and implementation of computer software for cryptocurrency, utility token, digital asset Giving on-line non-downloadable laptop or computer application for use as a cryptocurrency wallet Technological consulting in the industry of cryptocurrency.” (Class 42, for “faithcoin,” reg. no. 5701812).

Candidates must hence contemplate unique goods and products and services connected with a cryptocurrency when making use of for a trademark.

A different problem of registering a trademark for a cryptocurrency is that the mark will have to discover a supply of the goods or companies involved with the mark. The USPTO could refuse to register Dogecoin on this foundation if, for illustration, it finds that the public does not affiliate Dogecoin with the Colorado-centered (or Cooks Islands-dependent) Dogecoin Basis, but rather just associates Dogecoin with the cryptocurrency alone. The USPTO already located the time period “Bitcoin” generic and just descriptive of merchandise and products and services relating to online payments.[2] This problem may be less of an problem for candidates whose cryptocurrency has not reached the acclaim and notoriety of Bitcoin or Dogecoin, but it is important to prevent employing a cryptocurrency identify in a generic method to stop the name from slipping into the community area.

Over-all, although there are unique specifications to get a US trademark, the earlier a cryptocurrency firm considers and begins that course of action, the superior. (Otherwise, it might not be attainable to stop others from using the identify in a confusing way, or even from acquiring their individual rights.)


[1] See, e.g., Wall Road Journal.

[2] See e.g., Business Motion, Appl. Ser. No. 88057882 (Nov. 27, 2018).

Copyright © 2021, Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP. All Legal rights Reserved.
National Legislation Review, Volume XI, Range 280

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