“My treasure”. That’s what he must have thought Matthew Jensen when he launched the website www.jrrtoken.com in August. But the treasure did not last long in his hands. In full boom of cryptocurrencies (denominated in English token, tokens), this Florida businessman created the aforementioned domain – in an obvious nod to JRR Tolkien, the creator of the saga of The Lord of the rings-, to market a new virtual currency. The motto? “One coin to dominate them all”, following in the wake of the British writer’s books.
The project to promote a virtual currency inspired by the environment of Middle-earth (the scene where the fiction takes place) has been stopped short by the authorities dedicated to trademark registrations. The heirs of JRR Tolkien have managed to get the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), an institution based in Geneva, to order the immediate closure of the website, for having tried to use Tolkien’s creations without authorization.
Not only was it the name, the website featured rings, hobbit houses and a wizard with a striking resemblance to Gandalf, in an obvious attempt to use all the imagery linked to The Lord of the rings, a literary saga that led Peter Jackson to the cinema, in one of the most successful trilogies in history.
The lawyers for Matthew Jensen, the developer of JRR Token, argued before WIPO that “token” was a generic term, and that it did not have to be confused with the Tolkien surname, so they were not violating any intellectual property regulations.
However, the committee that assessed the case considered that “there is no doubt that the defendant was aware of the works of Tolkien’s works and created a website to take advantage of the fame of these works.”
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