A company in the United Kingdom has recently managed to acquire the trademark for the term “Bitcoin,” and reportedly used it to threaten a small business owner who’s been selling BTC-themed merchandise on the popular marketplace.
A company called A.B.C. IPHoldings South West LLC had filed for a trademark for “Bitcoin” after submitting the application on Dec. 22, 2017.
The news came as a shock to one merchant who was selling t-shirts on Etsy with the Bitcoin name and was told to stop his operations or be held liable in a court of law. The letter states:
“It has come to our client’s attention that you are offering for sale a variety of clothing bearing the Bitcoin trademark on Etsy.co.uk. [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.”
The business owner “Etsy.co.uk” shared their plight explaining that on May 25th, they received a letter from a company claiming to own the UK trademark for “Bitcoin.” The term has been ‘trademarked’ before, but it was never used to prosecute people using this term irrespective of their commercial interest. The owner said,
“I didn’t believe it at first since I knew that bitcoin and the bitcoin logo are public domain, and even a similar trademark application in the US failed. Well turns out they did manage to get a trademark filed, it can be viewed here. So basically anyone in the UK that puts the word bitcoin on any type of clothing or even a drink, can be sued.”
These kinds of moves aren’t new in the cryptocurrency ecosystem, as a Moscow-based company has, in 2016, attempted to trademark the term “Bitcoin” as well, but failed. A similar attempt was also rejected in the US.
A simple internet search shows us that a company called Inshallah Limited has applied to trademark the word “Litecoin” in the UK. The company also applied to trademark the term “Worldcoin,” which is the name of a small-cap cryptocurrency.
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