Mt.Gox parent company Tibanne to sell off "bitcoin" trademark and domain

Home » Mt.Gox parent company Tibanne to sell off "bitcoin" trademark and domain
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Named after Mark Karpeles’s cat, Mt.Gox parent company Tibanne owned more than a shockingly insecure bitcoin exchange. The company also held the Japanese and European Union trademarks on the word “bitcoin,” as well as the now-quite-valuable domain name. With all of Mt.Gox’s operations effectively dead, save for a sliver of hope by some that the company can be revived from liquidation under new ownership, Tibanne no longer has much use for the trademarks or the domain. Protected from Mt.Gox’s debts under Japanese bankruptcy law, Tibanne announced today that it would be selling off the trademark and domain in a combined package with an asking price of ¥100 million (roughly $1 million).

According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, although the domain is potentially quite valuable, the bitcoin trademark is almost certainly unenforceable in any jurisdiction. Originally registered by Tibanne on 2011 to prevent “opportunists around the world from trademarking the concept,” few trademark experts believe that an attempt to claim the now-commonplace word would stand up to even a simple legal challenge. Given that the word and concept were coined in 2008, and was already in wide circulation by 2011, the Japanese and E.U. patent offices would likely rule the trademarks invalid should the owning party try to enforce the claim.

If the holder is [Satoshi] Nakamoto, that would be a different story,” said So Saito, a laywer at Nishimura & Asahi, a major Japanese law firm. But if anyone else is holding the trademark, “companies wouldn’t be prohibited from using the word because it has become a common noun.”

It’s not known how valuable domain is, but for a large bitcoin startup with a vested interest in branding, such as BitPay, Circle or Coinbase, it could easily be worth $1 million. A bidding war over the Tibanne assets is not unlikely.

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