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Recently, I read about the Zcash Electric Coin Company “Zcash” trademark and active efforts to prevent others from using that name by making pull requests in competing forks and legal reminders.

Does any individual or company have control of the Monero trademark? Could a Monero trademark be abused to "to bully alternate development teams from improving the protocol and/or implementations" in a manner similar to what Peter Todd described in Zcash concern 1.8 below?

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  • The Zcash Company's trademark policy isn't significantly inhibiting forks. The fork mentioned is now called Zclassic, which IMHO is a less confusing name. – Daira Hopwood Feb 19 '17 at 5:15
  • Also note that there was no pull request to a forked coin's repo made by Zcash devs. The PR mentioned was a clearly invalid pull request to Zcash's repo made by the Zclassic devs. – Daira Hopwood Feb 19 '17 at 5:18
4

We applied for a trademark, and it almost got accepted, but then the now-defunct Moneero company got in the way. In our discussions with the Software Freedom Law Centre, who defended us against Moneero's threats, we learnt that there is a thing in trademark law (US specifically, but many other countries have a similar law) called the doctrine of equivalents. Basically this says that you can't break trademark restrictions by using a foreign word. For example, you can't register "Mela" as a trademark for a computer company in the USA, because that's the Italian word for apple:)

The upshot of this is that Monero is, most likely, actually impossible to trademark. Anyone that tries to register Monero as a trademark will be challenged by us on the basis that Monero is a foreign word (Esperanto) that means coin, and you couldn't register "coin" as a trademark. We can challenge this even if we only discover a trademark registration after the fact.

Because of this there is, or at least should be, no threat to any entities that use the Monero name, because it simply cannot be trademarked and used to threaten individuals or companies.

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    Why could you not trademark "coin" ? If the argument is that it is a common name, there are plenty of examples of common words being trademarked, Apple being the first one. The depth of the registrant's pockets are a likely strong argument there. – user36303 Nov 27 '16 at 16:26
  • @user36303 the point of trademarks is to provide companies with a uniqueness, and to prevent consumer confusion. Apple is a great example of an exception to the general trademarking rule, because an apple has nothing to do with computers. Nobody could get confused by the trademark. Coin, on the other hand, has EVERYTHING to do with finance, and allowing such a trademark could lead to a great deal of confusion. What if consumers were led to believe that the trademark holder was allowed to mint government-issued coins? Thus, because Monero is financial security software, it (should be) fine:) – fluffyponyza Nov 28 '16 at 23:19
  • OK, that makes sense. Though "Standard Oil" is probably registered, and people would think those guys make the standard variant. So I'm not sure it's that clear cut in practice. – user36303 Nov 29 '16 at 10:14
  • @user36303 sure, but remember that any trademark that's been granted seemingly-erroneously can be challenged. If someone tried to register a Monero trademark it would be challenged by many, many people, even if it's granted. – fluffyponyza Nov 29 '16 at 19:40

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