The Tolkien Estate took legal action to stop the development of a new cryptocurrency called “JRR Token.” The cryptocurrency was launched in August 2021 with the slogan “The One Token That Rules Them All”, along with a commercial featuring actor Billy Boyd, who played Pippin in the Lord of the Rings films. The currency’s creator said, “Saruman was trying to unify Middle Earth under centralised rule whereas the fellowship wanted decentralisation. Cryptocurrency is literally a decentralised network.” The Tolkien estate approached the World Intellectual Property Organization and said the product infringed their trademarks, while the developer said the name was parody. The arbitrator disagreed: “The respondent does not specify why the disputed domain name is humorous, funny or nail-biting, and not just a domain name chosen due to its similarities with the [estate’s] trademarks to take commercial advantage of its evocation.” The Tolkien estate won, and received the JRRToken.com domain name. The cryptocurrency developer has to stop using the name and delete everything they’ve posted online; they also had to pay the estate’s legal costs.
This article and more like it in the January 2022 issue of Locus.
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