UK Company Acquires ‘Bitcoin’ Trademark, Uses It to Threaten Etsy Vendor

Francisco Memoria
  • A UK-based firm has recently managed to acquire the trademar for the term "Bitcoin," and has decided to use to threaten a small business owner.
  • The firm claims the business owner may no longer sell BTC-themed merchandise, and that it must hand it over.

A company in the United Kingdom has recently managed to acquire the trademark for the term “Bitcoin,” and reportedly used it to threaten a small business owner who’s been selling BTC-themed merchandise on the popular marketplace.

The business owner shared its plight on the r/Bitcoin subreddit, in which he revealled that the company, A.B.C IPHoldings South West LLC, sent them a letter explaining that they owned the UK trademark for “Bitcoin.”

The business owner’s Reddit post reads:

“I didn’t believe it at first since I knew that bitcoin and the bitcoin logo are public domain, and even a similar trademark application in the US failed. Well turns out they did manage to get a trademark filed, it can be viewed here. So basically anyone in the UK that puts the word bitcoin on any type of clothing or even a drink, can be sued.”

Reddit user "AlarmingAdhesiveness"

The letter the Etsy vendor received stated they must remove all Bitcoin-themed merchandise from their store, cancel new orders, recall all related products, and hand it over to the trademark’s owner, A.B.C IPHoldings South West LLC. Failure to do so, it adds, will lead to a trademark infringement lawsuit.

According to available data, A.B.C IPHoldings South West LLC is a subsidiary of Monolip LTD. The company submitted an application to acquire the “Bitcoin” trademark in December 27, 2017, at a time in which the flagship cryptocurrency was close to its all-time high of nearly $20,000, according to CryptoCompare data.

The company, who’s seemingly patent trolling the Etsy vendor, also attempted to trademark the term “Westworld,” presumably because of its association with an HBO show with the same name.

These kinds of moves aren’t new in the cryptocurrency ecosystem, as a Moscow-based company has, in 2016, attempted to trademark the term “Bitcoin” as well, but failed. A similar attempt was also rejected in the US.

Digging a little deeper, a simple internet search shows us that a company called Inshallah Limited has applied to trademark the word “Litecoin” in the UK. The company also applied to trademark the term “Worldcoin,” which is the name of a small-cap cryptocurrency.

According to another Reddit user, however, these types of trademarks are unenforceable, as the terms are “far too generic to be trade marked like that.”