An undisclosed company incorporated in London thought to register a trademark for the name “Bitcoin.”
How do we know about this? An email surfaced from an Etsy vendor who was told by the UK’s Royal Intellectual Property Office to cease sales of clothing with the Bitcoin logo on them.
“It has come to our client’s attention that you are offering for sale a variety of Clothing bearing the BITCOIN trade mark on etsy.co.uk. We are enclosing screenshots of some of the Clothing to which we refer at Annex 2. You are also using the BITCOIN trade mark in relation to clothing. We are enclosing screenshots of this use at Annex 3.
[The company] has not authorized your use of the BITCOIN trade mark on and in relation to Clothing. Such use therefore amounts to Trade Mark Infringement pursuant to s10(1) of the Trade Marks Act 1994,” the email read.
We looked at the registration, and it turns out that this trademark was registered on December 22, 2017, set to expire on the same date in 2027.
If the company decides to renew the trademark after 10 years, it will continue to have authority over everything Bitcoin, at least in the UK.
This must be a terrible surprise for many companies that make and sell Bitcoin-related merchandise. However, it’s technically legal for a company to register a trademark that doesn’t currently belong to anyone.
It’s also unfortunately part and parcel for Bitcoin, a product that isn’t owned by anyone, to have this vulnerability. A company was bound to take advantage of the situation and enforce a trademark.
We just recently learned that Bitcoin has an anthem, and now we know that it (unwillingly) has a corporate entity.
In the United States, an individual named Ashraf Alqaqa filed for a trademark on the “Bitcoin” name, under serial number 87750980. It’s still not approved, but it’s likely that he’ll withdraw his claim.
On Saturday, he amended the application to tell the United States Patent & Trademark Office that he will withdraw his claim to the mark if they do not change it to “Mr. Bitcoin.”
On the other hand, we do have a successful patent registration in Germany from Katjes Fassin GmbH, serial number 017587957, registered on December 12, 2017.
Others who registered successful patents on “Bitcoin” include bitFlyer (010103646) and Beastin GmbH (017638925).
Perhaps now Satoshi Nakamoto can come out of the dark and clear up this nonsense once and for all?