What’s in an Ethereum Trademark? (Money)

  • Grace Noto
  • January 23, 2017
  • 1

dollar-currency-money-us-dollar-47344It turns out, brand recognition is one of the few things that works the same on or off a blockchain.

Grayscale Investments, the Digital Currency Group investment company in the news for publicly listing its bitcoin investment trust or GBTC fund on the NYSE, is in the spotlight again. This time it’s for creating a trust for accredited investors to park money in Ethereum Classic (the version of the chain where the DAO hack stands as is).

Now, while the company’s GBTC fund is now being publicly traded, this ETC fund  will most likely not be listed for a while; however, just the creation of the fund has sparked debate within the Ethereum community, with some members calling the trust everything from a “pump and dump” to a trick aimed at gullible investors to poorly veiled fraud:

It looks more like a classic case of investment fraud (pun intended). Fraudsters always had a way of naming companies similar to an existing one, with the purpose of fooling investors. By sidelining the “Classic” / ETC parts (e.g. the Twitter name is just EthereumTrust, and the full name doesn’t include “Classic” just the short “(ETC)” as if it’s Ethereum’s ticker), this is heading in that direction. Very misleading.

For investors, not familiar with all of the particulars of the Ethereum world—i.e., the differences between Ethereum and Ethereum Classic—the specifics of the trust could indeed get very confusing, very fast.

Additionally, while the code may be open-source, the name is not: Ethereum is trademarked by the Ethereum Foundation, meaning profiting off its name is slightly more complicated than profiting off of bitcoin, which was released into the world via a pseudonymous whitepaper.

In one of those twists of the cryptographic world, in the future similar problems could actually be solved by Ethereum itself—conceptually the network’s smart contracts, or self-executing code, could potentially be used to settle what the code deems trademark violations instantaneously without the messy debate currently required by human parties.

Shares of Grayscale’s GBTC fund are presently trading at a steady rate (if one can call it a rate yet; it’s been available on the NYSE for less than a week) of $118.50.

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