In a peculiar turn of events, a U.K based company A.B.C. IP Holdings South West LLC, has successfully acquired the trademark for the term “Bitcoin”. The company submitted the application in December last year when the cryptocurrency rate was an all-time high and obtained the trademark last month.
The company then proceeded to enforce the trademark’s use, by threatening a lawsuit against a small business that sells bitcoin-themed merchandise. The business owner received a letter on May 25 and posted about the same on Reddit. The letter from the company asked the business owner to remove all bitcoin-themed merchandise from its Etsy store, reclaim all bitcoin-themed items that were already sold and hand them over to the trademark owner. Failing to do so would result in a trademark infringement lawsuit.
The business owner was initially skeptical of the letter he received since the bitcoin logo and name were public domain and a similar attempt to trademark the same was made in the US but failed. A.B.C. IP Holdings is listed as a subsidiary of Monolip LTD, and its mailing address appears to be a rented mailbox at a London branch of Mail Boxes. The company has reportedly made an attempt to trademark “Westworld” possibly due to HBO show with the same name. The application for this trademark has been published but is yet to be perused by the Intellectual Property (IP) Office.
These types of actions are occasionally seen in the cryptocurrency world. Such attempts have been previously made to trademark bitcoin, litecoins and other altcoins. There was also an attempt by a California company to trademark “Bitcoin” which was rejected by the US Patent and Trademarks Office.
It was surprising that the company managed to acquire the trademark since the cryptocurrency has achieved mainstream recognition over the past years. It is unclear if the company would carry out the threat and whether it would hold up in court. It is still unclear on how the business owner plans to respond.