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Russian Firm Fails in Attempt to Trademark ‘Bitcoin’

Last Updated March 4, 2021 4:47 PM
Samburaj Das
Last Updated March 4, 2021 4:47 PM

Update: Headline partly edited for clarity.

In an attempt to patent the term ‘Bitcoin’ in Russia, a Moscow-based firm called M-Group filed an application at the Russian patent office. The application was duly rejected.

Rospatent, the Russian patent agency has recently confirmed the rejection of an application by a Moscow-based firm which filed a patent request to trademark ‘Bitcoin.’

According to local publication Rapsinews, the firm, known as “M-Group” requested the patent agency to trademark the term bitcoin in relation to the 36th and the 38th International Classification of Goods and Services for Finance and Telecommunications, respectively.

For its part, Rospatent duly denied the patent request for a trademark, firstly explaining that declared designation for the patent – ‘bitcoin’, unsurprisingly draws a parallel to an electronic payment system powered by a virtual currency of the same name.

Notably, the patent authority also recognized that the Bitcoin platform was developed in 2009 by Satoshi Nakamoto and Gavin Anderson, explaining the same to the filing firm M-Group. Additionally, Rospatent also added that the cryptocurrency ‘Bitcoin’ was already in circulation long before M-Group filed an application for trademarking the term ‘bitcoin.’

Bitcoin – A Common Term in Finance and Economy

In adding to its list of reasons why the request for a trademark of ‘Bitcoin’ was rejected, Rospatent also deemed the word ‘Bitcoin’ as a common term used in the fields of finance and economy.

Moreover, bitcoin is applicable to services related to Telecommunication systems – the 38th International Classification of Goods and Services.

With these factors in mind, the company’s request for a trademark could not be legally protected for the requested service classes (36th and 38th). Additionally, the patent authority also opined that such a trademark would inevitably confuse consumers who are dealing with services surrounding the cryptocurrency, in accordance to paragraph 3 of Article 1483  of the Civil Code of the Russian Federation which explicitly states:

  1. No trademark state registration shall be granted to designations which are or comprise elements:
    1) which are false or capable of misleading the consumer concerning goods or the manufacturer of goods;
    2) which conflict with the public interest and with humanity and moral principles.

M-Group’s Filing Arguments for Trademarking ‘Bitcoin’

On the flip-side, MGroup contended that the claimed designation that is ‘Bitcoin’ does not exist in reference books, dictionaries, encyclopedias, reference books or other sources of reliable records of information.

In providing another reason for filing for the trademark, the firm –through its patent application – cited existing trademarks of digital payment providers such as ‘WEBMONEY,’ ‘Yandex-Money,’ ‘QIWI-Wallet,’ among others, all of whom are legally protected in the Russian Federation. The firm also cited the examples of the registration symbols of existing currencies such as the Dollar.

Additionally, the claimant for the patent also contended that the cryptocurrency Bitcoin is not recognized by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO 4217), nor the National Classification Rates 9RCC).

Its final bone of contention for the patent was its filing that ‘claims’ of Bitcoin developed in 2009 or invented by Satoshi Nakamoto and Gavin Anderson stem from unconfirmed reports on the internet.

Although the outcome was a predictable one, it’s certainly interesting that Russian patent authority Rospatent acknowledged that Bitcoin is a common term used in the fields of finance and economy. The Russian government and regulators, starting with the finance ministry has frequently taken a hostile, affronted stance against the cryptocurrency, even though Bitcoin isn’t officially banned in the country. In its most recent proposal, the Russian Finance Ministry recommended a 7-year prison term for bitcoin adopters and miners.

Featured image from Shutterstock.