10 years of Bitcoin and 400 trademark applications
While the Bitcoin Cryptomoney just turned 10 years old.we feel it is time to look back at the history of the brand. It was in 2008 that Bitcoin was created by a person or a group wearing the Satoshi Nakamoto's alias. Despite the mystery surrounding its creation, this virtual currency is still considered by the Court of Justice of the European Union as "being a contractual means of payment (...). It constitutes a means of direct settlement between operators who accept it. »
The Bitcoin brand rush
It was not until 2011 that the first deposits of the Bitcoin name were made. On the 1ster deposit was made in Portugal in March 2011. Subsequently, deposits including the name Bitcoin have multiplied. Between 2011 and 2018, more than 400 trademark applications were filed. Trademarks in the name of cryptomony can thus be found in registries around the world. But at seems that there is no repository that has been made by the creator of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto..
The Bitcoin Foundation takes a dim view of these deposits. Indeed, as early as 2015, it publicly states that the name should not be registered as a trademark in order to remain available to users.
However, the Offices continue to register the filings they receive. A December 2017 filing in the United Kingdom attracted media attention. On that date, a British company A.B.C. IP-HOLDINGS filed the trademark Bitcoin with the English Trade Mark Office. The Office registers it in Classes 25 (clothing), 32 and 33 (beverages) under number UK00003279106.
Since the goods in question have no connection with the currency (financial services are indeed in Class 36), there is no problem of descriptiveness of the mark. However, one may question the seriousness of this application. The proprietor sees this trademark as a good means of earning money. He therefore threatens a first business in May 2018.
Bitcoin branded products on Etsy
Once its brand in its pocket, IP-HOLDINGS goes after a seller on the Etsy platform. This one, who sells tee-shirts with the name BitcoinIn the case of the United States, the company receives a letter of formal notice asking it to stop selling these products. The letter states that the trademark owner has not authorized the affixing of the Bitcoin trademark on clothing. Such use is therefore tantamount to trademark infringement.
The T-shirt salesman defends himself from any bad intentions. Before receiving this mail, he thought that the logo and the name Bitcoin were in the public domain. Despite having withdrawn its products from sale, the seller believes that the brand owner is not the father of the Bitcoin.
However, it is impossible to know whether or not A.B.C. IP-HOLDINGS is related to Satoshi Nakamoto. However, this does not seem very credible. Indeed, it is unlikely that the creator of the cryptomony waited until 2017 to defend his rights. Moreover, the applicant company belongs to a group (MONOPOLIP) which recently tried to register the trademark Westworld, named after the American series. It is therefore probably a "trademark-troll", a company that registers trademarks with the sole aim of attacking previous users.
What future for Bitcoin brands?
One wonders whether Bitcoin is a strong brand as the name has become part of our everyday language. The name should no longer be registrable for Class 36, as it is descriptive. Since 2015, it has been observed that the Offices often reject attempts to register trademarks. Bitcoin.
But what about brands that do not refer to the currency in their wording? The question is more delicate, as the name remains arbitrary for other products. Thus, Katjes Fassin GmbH registers the German trademark Bitcoin on December 12, 2017 to designate food. Ashraf Alqaqa is doing the same to the United States in January 2018 in classes 3 (perfumes) and 21 (perfume bottles). Société Parisienne de Parfums et de Cosmétiques finally obtained in May 2018 the registration of the French trademark Bitcoin for perfumes (class 3).
It seems that the craze for this famous name is not about to die out.