Can Cryptocurrency Firms Easily Navigate Trademark Challenges?
The global cryptocurrency market is currently witnessing explosive growth with currencies like Bitcoin and Etherium ruling the roost. Cryptocurrencies are touted as the future of money and a progressive economy such as the UAE has welcomed the trend. Free zones such as Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) and Dubai Airport Free Zone (DAFZA) are at the forefront of encouraging crypto businesses. However, when it comes to branding, the existing laws of trademark registration in the UAE or Trademark laws of any other jurisdiction seems to be at a nascent stage to accommodate the evolving crypto businesses.
At present, most of the crypto trademarks remain unregistered except for Bitcoin which is registered only in the UK and RIPPLE in the US. Granting trademark registration for Bitcoin was mired in controversy as there was a loud clamour citing that it lacks distinctiveness. This controversy points the finger at the branding and trademarking challenges associated with crypto businesses. And a pertinent question is raised: ‘Can the major players in the crypto industry navigate the branding & trademarking challenges? Trademark agents in Dubai guide you through this issue in this blog. Read on.
Absence of Central Ownership
Trademarks identify a single source of origin that conflicts with the concept of cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrencies are generated through blockchain technology that is marked by the absence of any central control or ownership. The blockchain is the repository of cryptocurrencies which is a communal database of all users of the virtual currency. This blockchain verifies and enables transactions related to or using crypto-currencies. This makes IP protection for community-based blockchains rather murky.
Can the Name of a Cryptocurrency Function as a Brand?
To resolve the basic trademark challenge for crypto businesses, we can debate whether the name of a cryptocurrency can act as a brand or not. As per the law governing trademark registration in the UAE, a brand or a trademark can be a word, name, symbol, design, or phrase used to identify and distinguish a product or service and to indicate the source of the product or service. If we follow this definition, the following questions need to be asked:
- Is cryptocurrency a type of product or service?
- Can the name of a cryptocurrency be a source identifier, even if the source is unknown?
As for the first question, a cryptocurrency can’t be a product or service if it is merely a medium of exchange, such as a traditional currency. However, a cryptocurrency used for a purpose beyond that of a traditional currency can be considered as a product or service. As for the second question, if the name of a cryptocurrency does not identify a single source (even if unknown), it does not function as a trademark. However, a centralised cryptocurrency that originates from and is distributed by a single source can identify that source. Bitcoin is a decentralised cryptocurrency and hence the controversy surrounding its trademark registration. In short, a cryptocurrency that can be considered as a product or service and can indicate a single source will be eligible for trademark registration in the UAE.
Why is Brand Protection Vital for Cryptocurrencies?
Even though the current regime is riddled with certain challenges, protecting cryptocurrencies through trademark registration in the UAE is an absolute necessity. There is a wide range of cryptocurrencies and exchanges in circulation at present. In this highly competitive environment, a casual user can be duped by a fraudulent individual who starts a fake exchange to profit from the hype of cryptocurrencies. Or in another instance, a new cryptocurrency bearing a similar name such as Bitcoin would create confusion among unwary investors. This happens as the original and well-known blockchain has not registered a trademark in the UAE.
How can Cryptocurrency Businesses Register Trademarks in the UAE?
If you can ensure the brands are distinctive and not generic, you can protect most crypto-related services through trademarks with the help of trademark agents in Dubai. You can protect the names of coins through trademark registration in the UAE provided it’s not a medium of exchange and has purposes beyond that of a traditional currency. Remember you can’t register generic trademarks such as “BLOCKCHAIN” and “BITCOIN”, “BLOCKCHAIN NETWORK” or “BITCOIN CAFÉ.”
The UAE follows the NICE Classification and it is mandatory to file your marks under relevant trademark classes. A cryptocurrency exchange can be trademarked under Class 036 as a financial exchange. Class 042 is another applicable coordinated class that represents software as a service allowing the exchange of cryptocurrency. In most cases, both classes are appropriate, as most crypto exchanges are financial exchanges. Similarly, consulting services that relate to cryptocurrency can be trademarked as either a Class 036 financial consulting service or a Class 042 computer consulting service.
Seek the Help of Trademark Agents in Dubai, UAE
As the UAE is providing more business setup opportunities for cryptocurrency exchanges and related services, it is worthwhile to examine the challenges and solutions. If you can ensure distinctiveness, it’s not tough to conduct trademark registration in the UAE for your crypto products or services. All you need to have is prior consultation with the best trademark agents in Dubai such as Jitendra Intellectual Property (JIP).
JIP can help crypto brand owners avoid infringement through trademark watch services and trademark search services in the UAE. Our trademark agents will guide you in selecting the right trademark classes and file the trademark with the UAE Trademark Office without any delays. JIP’s trademark services in the UAE allows you to focus on your business without worrying about the safety of your valuable brands.