Update: Ultra Pro has made an announcement on the subject after the article was published. It can be read here.
The Dogecoin community was introduced to some negative information recently when it was uncovered that Ultra Pro International, a case and sleeve company, announced plans to trademark the word “Doge.” The move was met with outrage and confusion from the community, along with fear that it would affect merchants selling Doge-related products that accept Dogecoin.
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It all started when Twitter user Little Shibe uncovered a document stating that Ultra Pro was looking to file for a trademark on June 16, 2014. Little Shibe took to Twitter and asked them a question, along with a screenshot of the document.
@LittleShibe June 21, 2014 | 6:03 p.m.
Ultra Pro then responded, with a negatively anticipated response:
@UltraProIntl June 21, 2014 | 7:16 p.m.
@LittleShibe yes we are a licensee, and are creating line of Doge products :)
The DogeCar PR account, created to promote and follow Josh Wise and the Dogecar, asked another question. The tweet was in shorthand, but was transcribed as follows.
“Why are you trying to trademark the Doge meme?” they asked, “Doge has been long before June 16, and other merchandise is already available. The main concern is you suing current and past vendors.”
Ultra Pro responded again, claiming that they’ve taken all the responsibility necessary to made the trademark official:
@UltraProIntl June 21, 2014 | 8:29 p.m.
@DogeCarPR FWIW, we actually sought out the owner, signed a license & are paying royalties & donating to her charities :)
Once the news hit the Dogecoin subreddit, users were outraged and saw the trademark as a threat to their digital currency’s livelihood. If the trademark goes unchallenged, Ultra Pro may not be able to affect Dogecoin specifically, but may be able to hinder their vendors.
“Trademarking Doge just goes to show that this company has no understanding of the community and what makes us tick,” one user said, “I think, under all circumstances, they should be boycotted.”
In order for the Dogecoin community to challenge the trademark, one would have to go through a process called “interference proceeding.” Three years ago this was a much simpler process that would favor their community over the company; however, President Barack Obama signed a law into effect on September 16, 2011 that caused a shift to favor the first company to file.
“This is trademark trolling, which is becoming just as bad a scene as patent trolling. Since Ultra Pro is trademarking it first, they can do whatever they feel like, even go after people who've already made doge apparel, unless someone challenges them,” another Dogecoin user explained as they walked other users through the situation.
Fans of the Doge meme may be in the clear. There’s a possibility that the trademark may be opposed due to prior widespread usage. With Rage Comics, companies were able to use them on their products because the original creator couldn’t quite be proven. The famous picture of Kabuso, the dog, can be found, and it seems as though they have been, but the word “Doge” may have a different creator. That creator would have automatic copyright under the Berne Convention.
UltraPro has established contact with Moolah.io through Twitter, but has yet to make any more announcements on the subject matter.