After the rise of Bitcoin to fame in recent years, a lot of Bitcoin(BTC) themed merch has become popular in the market. However, one such small business that sells Bitcoin-themed shirts, has received a letter from a company claiming to own the UK trademark for “Bitcoin.”
A UK company has successfully acquired the trademark for “Bitcoin” and now threatens to bring down a lawsuit against small businesses. The business owner shared their ordeal on the Bitcoin subreddit.
The letter, an abridged version of which has been posted by the user online, further said that the t-shirt business must withdraw all Bitcoin-themed merchandise from its Etsy store. All Bitcoin-related products that have already been sold need to be recalled, and all this merchandise is to be delivered to the trademark owner. Failure to do so, the letter claimed, would result in a trademark infringement lawsuit.
The user is understandably baffled and has written
“I didn’t believe it at first since I knew that Bitcoin and the Bitcoin(BTC) logo are public domain, and even a similar trademark application in the US failed”.
However, as the business owner soon discovered, a company called A.B.C. IPHoldings South West LLC successfully obtained a trademark for “Bitcoin” last month after initially submitting the application on Dec. 27, 2017. A.B.C. IPHoldings South West LLC is listed as a subsidiary of Monolip LTD, whose mailing address appears to be a rented mailbox at a London branch of Mail Boxes Etc.
The firm has also applied for one other trademark, “Westworld,”, presumably due to its association with the popular HBO show created by Jonathan Nolan, of the same name. The application for this trademark has been published, but it has not yet been examined by the IP office.
Whether this threat for a lawsuit will be carried out or whether it will hold in court is a question that doesn’t have a definite answer yet. In any case, it’s shocked everyone that a company was able to successfully trademark the term since the popular cryptocurrency has achieved mainstream fame over the past several years.
Previous efforts to trademark the term by a Moscow-based company and a California based company proved to be unsuccessful.