Redditor wins battle over Satoshi-inspired crypto name
A New York court has ruled that a US-based podcaster and a pair of crypto traders must stop using a Satoshi Nakamoto-inspired name on any of their media products or properties because a Redditor based in the UK came first.
As reported by Law360, in October businessmen Kyle Bongers and Blake Starling began selling a cryptocurrency called “$SSB”, promoting it in a number of Telegram groups including SatoshiStreetbets, SatoshiStreetbetsAnnouncements and SSBTokenOfficial.
However, British businessman David Gilbert has claimed these group names are ripping off his SatoshiStreetBets subreddit – itself heavily indebted to the WallStreetBets subreddit – which has been running since February 2020 and has over 600,000 members.
Gilbert runs a company called Diamond Hands Consulting, but earlier this year he started selling crypto – specifically a currency he called Satoshi Swap — in a bid to monetize its massive following on social media.
And in a remote hearing earlier this week, Judge Ronnie Abrams approved Gilbert’s request for a preliminary injunction that will prevent Bongers and Blake from piggybacking on SatoshiStreetBets’ success.
However, the final decision on all SatoshiStreetBets Trademark Applications will have to go through the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.
The injunction also applies to podcaster Noah Kazlow who worked with Bongers and Starling but stepped down on his own to launch the Satoshi Street Betting Podcast.
Speaking at the hearing, Judge Abrams said: “Plaintiff has established his long and consistent use of the mark in trade since before any other known user of the brand” (emphasis added).
“The cryptocurrency space is full of interesting characters,” added a member of Gilbert’s legal team.
“We view Starling and Bongers as two fraudsters who saw an opportunity to take someone else’s name. … We think they probably made millions of dollars doing this” (via Law360).
The United States is a “first to use” country, not a “first to file” country
Kazlow argued that he should be allowed to continue using the name due to the fact that he filed a trademark application in February 2021 – six months before Gilbert. However, as Gilbert’s attorneys have pointed out, in the United States it is not who deposits first but who uses first.
They also added that Gilbert had applied for a trademark in the UK before Kazlow made his own attempt.
During the hearing, Bongers and Starling attempted to delay the judge’s decisionarguing that the issue is far from clear.
However, Gilbert’s team hit back, pointing out that any decision by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board could take years and that the board “would likely put the case on hold, pending the results of this court”.
Read more: Craig Wright’s $68 billion Bitcoin dispute has both sides claiming he’s Satoshi Nakamoto
A major point that could affect the final outcome of the case is whether a subreddit can be categorized the same as a business. If it turns out that’s not possible, Krazow claims, he would be the first to use the mark commercially.
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