Telegram Takes Alleged Trademark Squatter to Court over Cryptocurrency Naming Rights
Encrypted messaging company Telegram has filed a trademark suit against a Florida company that also intends to create a cryptocurrency named “gram.”
The suit, which was filed on May 11 in the San Francisco branch of the US District Court for the Northern District of California, alleges that Lantah LLC violated Telegram’s service mark rights when it filed a trademark application for “gram” in February. The news was first reported by legal publication The Recorder.
As CCN has reported, the Pavel Durov-led firm raised $1.7 billion from a group of less than 200 accredited investors to fund the development of the future Telegram Open Network (TON), whose native
cryptocurrency will be called GRAM.
However, in February Lantah LLC filed a trademark registration for “gram,” stating that it intended to develop a “virtual currency for use by members of an on-line community via a global computer network.” That application, incidentally, was filed after Telegram had begun raising funds for its network.
Telegram claims that it has acquired “common law trademark rights” to GRAM since it has already conducted a “widely reported on and highly successful offering of Purchase Agreements” using the term. The firm further alleges that Lantah is operating in bad faith and seeks to profit from brand confusion.
From the complaint:
“Lantah’s unauthorized use in commerce of a service mark that is confusingly similar to Telegram Messenger’s GRAM mark has caused and is likely to continue to cause confusion or mistake, or to deceive consumers and potential consumers, the public, and the trade concerning an affiliation, connection, or association between Lantah and Telegram when there is no such affiliation, connection, or association.”
Such brand confusion can have serious consequences. When Venezuela began accepting preorders for its “petro” cryptocurrency earlier this year, an unrelated
token of the same name briefly experienced a pronounced price rally as confused investors purchased it thinking they were buying the state-backed token.
Daniel Jeffrey, the principal owner of Lantah LLC, told CCN in an emailed statement that, contrary to Telegram’s claim, Lantah was using the “gram” trademark before it was even aware that Telegram had decided to market a product under the same name.
“Lantah was publicly using the Gram name before we were even aware of Telegram’s decision to market one of their products with the same name. This was backed up by the availability of the trademark,” he said. “We are now having the matter reviewed by counsel.”