London Man Attempts to Trademark Bitcoin

(@kadhimshubber) | Published on December 20, 2013 at 16:30 BST | Law, News

A man from London is attempting to trademark the word “Bitcoin” in the United Kingdom.

In an application made to the UK’s patent office on 5th November, Marvin Dennis of Leyton, East London, is seeking to trademark the term used by Satoshi Nakamoto to describe his cryptocurrency.

Published by the Trade Marks Journal on 4th December, the application for the trademark is due to be granted on 6th February 2014 if unopposed. The trademark regards the use of the term with relation to “chocolates and confectionary”, so wouldn’t have a direct impact on bitcoin’s use in the areas of computing or finance.

This is not the first time someone has tried to trademark bitcoin. In 2011, an American lawyer sought to claim the trademark the word in the US and France.

France, like the United Kingdom, adheres to a principle of first-mover, which means that the first to claim gains ownership of the trademark, as opposed to a principle of first-use, which means that you may have trademark protection by virtue of having used that unique word or symbol, even if you didn’t explicitly register it.

After a massive backlash, Michael Pascazi dropped his US application but then renewed his efforts in France. Mt. Gox mounted a challenge to that claim, successfully defeating his trademark application by claiming it for themselves, saying in a press release:

“The Pascazis’ stated intention is to profit from these trademarks, which would hamper bitcoin enthusiasts, businesses and the community as a whole on a global basis in the free use and promotion of bitcoin. [Mt.Gox] will oppose this and any other “greed based” trademark application, in order to prevent self-serving attempts to profit from bitcoin through spurious legal suits, and keep the term ‘bitcoin’ free for all.”

It’s unclear whether Marvin Dennis owns any sort of chocolate or confectionary business. No business is listed in the trademark application, as would be the case if a business were applying for the trademark.

Additionally, there is almost no web trail for Mr Dennis. A series of web domains registered to his name and address are inactive, ending on GoDaddy.com pages.

CoinDesk has been unable to find any social media accounts that can be definitively linked to him and he doesn’t appear to be linked with any businesses. An attempt was made to reach Mr Dennis at an email address linked with his domains.

Under UK law, trademark applications must be made to the Patent Office at a cost of £170 if the application is made online.

In this case, Mr Dennis appears to have hired the Trade Marks Bureau to act as representatives for the trademark application. They did not respond to a request for comment.

Once reviewed, applications are advertised in the Trade Marks Journal for two months to allow for objections to be made. Objections are not a legal process, but merely submitting evidence that should be considered before granting a trademark. People can also take legal action to oppose a trade mark application.

Coins image via Casascius

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