Tolkien estate blocks JRR Token crypto-currency

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JRR TokenImage source, Via Wayback Machine
Image caption,
Websites selling and promoting the crypto-currency featured rings and hobbit holes

Lord of the Rings creator JRR Tolkien's estate has successfully blocked a crypto-currency called JRR Token.

Lawyers representing the estate said the product, launched in August, infringed the author's trademark.

Websites selling and promoting the crypto-currency, and, featured rings, hobbit holes and a wizard like Gandalf.

The US-based developer paid the estate's legal costs, which the lawyers said were "significant".

The estate filed a complaint with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), one day after tokens for the crypto-currency ($JRR) went on sale aiming to "organise the people towards a common goal of making JRR Token 'The One Token That Rules Them All'".

This was very similar to the "one ring to rule them all" line from The Lord of The Rings book, the lawyers said.

And the domain name, registered in February 2021, was "specifically designed to mislead" people into believing it had a legitimate commercial connection with the author.

Image source, Via Wayback Machine
Image caption,
The domain name was "specifically designed to mislead" people, lawyers said

The developer said: "The fact that the disputed domain name brings to mind the complainant's trademarks is indicative of the parody evoked by the JRR Token mark, not of any purported bad faith."

And "JRR" stood for "Journey through Risk to Reward", a reference to "a unique form of digital currency".

But the WIPO dismissed this, saying: "It is not clear to the panel what 'Journey through Risk to Reward' actually means, and why the term 'journey' is relevant to the purchase of tokens.

"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 [Tolkien estate's] trademarks, to take commercial advantage of its evocation."

And there was no doubt the developer was aware of Tolkien's works and had created a website "to trade off the fame of these works".

Translated into 36 languages, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings have sold an estimated 100 million copies.

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JRR Tolkien remains one of the most celebrated fantasy authors of all time

Estate solicitor Steven Maier said: "The Tolkien estate has a duty to protect the JRR Tolkien name and the contents of his much loved books.

"This was a particularly flagrant case of infringement, which sought to gain a financial benefit by associating the crypto-currency with the JRR Tolkien name and literary works.

"The estate believes this action sends a strong message that third parties will not be allowed to free-ride on the JRR Tolkien name and books for financial gain."

Image source, Netflix
Image caption,
A digital token inspired by the popular South Korean Netflix series Squid Game was created, earlier this year, in an apparent scam

The estate regularly dealt with a "significant volume of infringement" of its trademarks and was "continually monitoring activity in the cryptocurrency and NFT [non-fungible token] sectors", he added.

It is becoming increasingly common for new crypto-currencies to try to take advantage of well known brands.

In October, a digital token inspired by South Korean Netflix series Squid Game was created in an apparent scam.