Jack Dorsey's TBD Reverses Plan to Trademark 'Web5' After Backlash

The move was meant to prevent confusion about the meaning of Web5 and deter misuse of the term.

AccessTimeIconNov 30, 2022 at 12:24 a.m. UTC
Updated May 9, 2023 at 4:03 a.m. UTC
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TBD, the bitcoin-focused subsidiary of Jack Dorsey’s payments firm Block (SQ), reversed course after just a few hours and decided not to trademark the term "Web5," following a backlash on the decision.

"We made this announcement [plans to trademark Web5] because we were concerned that those who are intentionally obfuscating the term to sell products and services that we consider unrelated and contrary to the mission of Web5, were using the term in ways that we believe exploit the public," TBD tweeted.

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  • "While our concerns here have not abated, we have heard loud voices in the community who are concerned about the potential for abuse of trademark law in ways that would undermine the mission of decentralization," the tweet added.

    The move comes just hours after the company tweeted that it "decided to seek protection" for the term Web5 as there were products and services that were misusing the name. "We therefore decided to seek protection for 'Web5,' which will allow us to prevent confusion about the meaning of 'Web5' and ensure that the term is used as intended – to refer to a truly open, decentralized layer for the new internet," a previous tweet announcing the decision to seek a trademark had said.

    Web5 was announced this year during CoinDesk’s Consensus Festival in Austin, Texas, where TBD explained that "Web5 brings decentralized identity and data storage to individuals’ applications." It will let developers focus on "creating delightful user experiences, while returning ownership of data and identity to individuals."

    TBD envisioned Web5, a word that combines Web2 and Web3, to be "a public tool for good" that will be open to everyone and will build the next iteration of the internet. However, trademarking the term, which deters others from using it, could be seen as opposite of an idea of a true decentralized internet.

    In the previous announcement, TBD said that "it's not our intention to prevent others from using Web5, but we want to establish an initial way to defend its principles," and added that it was working on ways to enable commercial and noncommercial uses of Web5, "as long as participants respect the meaning of the term and uphold its main attributes."

    However, after the community backlash the company decided to suspend the plan until further notice. "Our goal is to catalyze the community and have Web5 exist as its own thing, separate from TBD and Block. This move now, even given the [community's] concerns, undermines people's trust in that mission," TBD said in the new announcement.

    UPDATE: (Nov. 30, 17:28 UTC): Updates throughout to reflect TBD's reversal of its previous plan.


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    Aoyon Ashraf

    Aoyon Ashraf is managing editor with more than a decade of experience in covering equity markets

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