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Cryptocurrencies and Trade Mark Infringement

In recent news, UAE based ‘crypto’ company “Alibabacoin Foundation” are being sued by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding. The proceedings allege that the UAE company are “intentionally misleading” consumers as to the false connection between the two companies. Alibaba is seeking damages for violation of its intellectual property rights and an injunction restraining the alleged ongoing infringements to the Alibaba trade mark.

Considering this recent news, it is a good idea for crypto companies to start thinking about how to protect their IP interests and to make sure they are not infringing the IP rights of another company or individual. This article will you give a quick run-down of how to create and protect your crypto brand.

Creating a crypto brand

The rapid growth of new crypto coins signals a need for intellectual property protection. In fact, there is over a thousand crypto coins on the market today and with new coins being released frequently, the competition between different coins is becoming intense. As with any competitive market, finding and maintaining a competitive edge is crucial for a coin’s survival.

In this regard, creating a crypto ‘brand’ can go a long way in differentiating your product from those of your competitors. However, establishing a brand identity is only as powerful as it can be protected. Registering a brand as a trade mark is important as it provides the owner of the trade mark with enforceable rights against others from copying or otherwise taking advantage of the goodwill in the owner’s brand or company name.

How to register a crypto trade mark?

Trade marks are important assets as it means the owner of the trade mark has the exclusive right to use, licence and sell the rights in the asset. In order to register your crypto as a trade mark, it must meet the requirements of registration as set out under the Trade Marks Act 1995 (Cth). The most important being that the trade mark is capable of distinguishing your goods and services.

This means that common names (such as surnames or geographical names) are off limits. Further, if your brand name can be used to indicate the kind, quality, intended purpose or value of the goods or services then it may not be capable of registration. Nevertheless, in some instances there may be grounds for claiming that your brand name is capable of registration, such as prior use.

Register your trade mark and IP interests ASAP

Generally, the idiom “the sooner the better” is good advice in relation to protecting your IP assets. This is particularly true for trade marks especially if you wish to obtain priority over other competing brands. In this regard, taking initiative to protect your crypto brand is an important step in future-proofing your business assets.

For example, the popular crypto company Ripple has a registered trade mark in Australia and in many overseas jurisdictions. By registering their company name, they can prevent other competitors in the crypto space from copying their brand name and image. Further, the associated cryptocurrency XRP is also protected by trade mark in the US by Ripple Labs Inc. In this way, the company is protecting not only their business name but also their product (i.e. the crypto coin).

Take away points from this article:

  • Stand out from the crowd by creating a unique crypto brand;
  • Ensure that your brand is registerable (e.g. not a descriptive term);
  • Register your brand name as a trade mark ASAP;
  • Think about what goods and services you may want your trade mark to cover in the future.

Sam Gilbert, IP and Technology Consultant, B.A., LL.B  University of Technology, Sydney

For any more information on how to protect your brand, or to make an inquiry about a trade mark, please do not hesitate to get in contact with the team at W3IP Law on 1300 776 614 or 0451 951 528.

 
Disclaimer. The material in this post represents general information only and should not be taken to be legal advice.

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