Monday, July 18, 2011

Bitcoin ®

New York registered Lawyer Michael Pascazi, having now abandoned his US application[1] for trademark over the term 'Bitcoin' for "strategic reasons", is now seeking to register the trademark in other countries.

Mr Pascazi's "strategic reasons" appear to be the United States anomalous position in terms of intelectual property law. The US, unlike other countries, operates a first-to-use system. Mr Pascazi chose to pursue a claim under this system, submiting a letter alongside his application claiming first commercial use of the term "Bitcoin" on the 22nd of June 2011 [2]. This decision came under significant scrutiny from Bitcoin enthusiats, and in Mr Pascazis own words, "there are lots of people interested and alleging they can prove first-to-use"[3].

However, this has not been the end of the matter. Most other countries operate a "first-to-file" system. This system tends to favour corporate research departments over individual inventors, but results in less messy legal proceedings once an application has been made. It may also favour Mr Pascazi. Having seen this as an opportunity, he has remained defiant in the face of angered Bitcoin users, saying "Either it’s not important to them or it’s important but they’re not doing anything about it because… it’s easier to sit on your couch and complain than to do something".[3]

So how succesful is this new attempt at trademarking likely to be? Well its certainly not the first Open Source project to undergo this trial. In fact the term 'Open Source' itself was originally intended to be a trademark to prevent unscrupulous individuals or companies using it incorrectly. In that case the trademark application failed since this term was considered a description, instead the open source foundation now holds the trademark "OSI certified" [4]. There are many other cases with Wikipedia holding a list of some 30+ Open Source projects whose names have been trademarked [5]. None of this of course reflects on how succesful Mr Pascazis attempt to register the term Bitcoin will be, it does however suggest that those who dismiss this application out of hand may be a little too hasty.

A final reflection on this story though is that if there is one thing lawyers are good for, its sniffing out assets and money. So if Mr. Pascazi continues to chase the application for this trademark, perhaps we should view it as a professional vote of confidence in the future of Bitcoins.

[1] (Serial #:8535491)

No comments:

Post a Comment