While some people create their own cryptocurrencies, others are busy registering the rights for the most successful ones. Take a look at Bitcoin: its name, its logo as well, has been in demand right from the start. Some of the attempts to trademark the biggest cryptocurrency failed, but quite a few of them made it through.
The question is – why do people need this? What aims are driving them? Or could it be a simple act of vanity?
Let’s try to figure it out.
The Bitcoin Trademark Around the World
Earlier this month, a crypto enthusiast and “Bitcoin salesman” from Spain spotted the opportunity of a lifetime: he trademarked Bitcoin’s name and logo. When Cointelegraph asked him about the reason behind this bold move, he answered that he was just trying to protect his business. Also, he didn’t want anyone to use BTC’s name and logo incorrectly. Apparently, if they do, he’ll fight them. Only time will tell if this mysterious Spanish crypto entrepreneur is truly altruistic.
It’s not the first time someone tried to claim the rights to Bitcoin. A gentleman in the UK has also managed to trademark Bitcoin’s name and logo in several areas, including clothing and drinks. Probably, we would have never even heard about this if not for one Reddit user who was simply trying to make a little extra income selling a few t-shirts with the Bitcoin print on Etsy. One day he received an email that said he should stop selling these items immediately as Bitcoin’s trademark had already been registered in relation to clothing.
Obviously, Redditors seethed over the subject, questioning whether something as generic and non-distinctive as Bitcoin can be actually trademarked and looked for a smart way to get back at the copyright owner. However, it seemed like the t-shirt merchant decided not to check if they were really going to enforce some measures.
Luckily, a similar initiative did not stand a chance in the US although they did try. Back in 2011, a Magellan Capital company filed an application to trademark Bitcoin in the financial service class. Not even bothering with chasing the t-shirt sellers, they decided to go for the jackpot and claim the bitcoin network all for themselves. However, when the Bitcoin community found out about this intention they were not too happy about it. Eventually, the company had to revoke their application and gave up their brilliant idea.
From Drug Dealers to Imposters
But not just Bitcoin’s name and logo attract opportunists from different parts of our planet, it’s the Whitepaper too. You probably heard that Craig Wright, an eccentric man who claims to be the creator himself, tried to copyright Bitcoin’s whitepaper.
Here’s the thing: owning the copyright for something doesn’t really mean that you created it. In fact, anyone can apply and the copyright office will not investigate whether your claim is legit, that’s exactly what they pointed out when the news about Wright went viral.
As a matter of fact, before Craig Wright, there were others. Rumour has it, the brother of Pablo Escobar held Bitcoin’s trademark. And there was also another Satoshi-wannabe man from Hawaii who took the initiative to copyright the whitepaper in 2016.
Apparently, to fight with competition, Craig Wright had to send a letter to the current copyright owner to contest the trademark, and that’s exactly what he did. His letter, however, was left unanswered and six months later the most famous fake Satoshi became a new Bitcoin WP copyright holder.
Why Do They Do it?
The way the copyright system is organized has clearly not been thought through. This paves the way for a bunch of opportunists who try their luck in trademarking one of the most talked-about and money-making tech inventions of the decade. But why do they bother?
Perhaps, the main two reasons are vanity, and the human desire for chasing easy money. Copyright and trademark ownership is a serious business and if you’re experienced enough, you’ll be able to profit off of it big time. Selling Bitcoin’s trademark sounds like a million-dollar idea, so there’s a big chance that people won’t stop trying.
The good news is that Satoshi made sure those guys will not be able to do much harm. Bitcoin’s code is open source and has been released under MIT license. Anyone, an individual or organization, can use Bitcoin’s code as they please.