You know that themed cryptocurrency from the universe of Lord of the Rings released two months ago? So the call JRR Token has already been dropped for copyright infringement of author JRR Tolkien. The decision was taken by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), which also determined that one of the domains of the digital currency project was transferred to the rightful owner.
Under the slogan “a token to rule them all”, the cryptocurrency of Lord of the Rings JRR Token was released in early August. At the time, developers of the digital currency even hired actor Billy Boyd, who plays the hobbit Pippin Took in the films, to shoot a video promoting the new digital asset.
JRR Token is played on Mount Doom
Boyd had suggested that the token “would go to the moon”, but it appears that the fate of the JRR Token, like Sauron’s ring, was Mount Doom. As soon as the project began to be publicized, the lawyers of the company that held the rights to the magical universe created by JRR Tolkien quickly filed a complaint in the World Intellectual Property Organization.
The global forum also saw the problems highlighted by lawyers. The domain name of the cryptocurrency website trademark infringement. The website “jrrtoken.com” would be “confusingly similar”, intentionally, to Tolkien’s intellectual property.
In addition to the technical aspects of trademark and usage rights, there are a multitude of “allusions” to the Middle-earth universe on the official JRR Token page. There were hobbit lairs, magic rings and a wizard extremely similar to the iconic Gandalf, played by Ian McKellen in the films directed by Peter Jackson. However, none of these aspects were raised by WIPO. The biggest problem, it seems, was the name.
In response, lawyers for JRR Token developer Matthew Jensen said that “token” was a generic term and that should not be confused with the surname Tolkien (something difficult), so it did not infringe any intellectual property. Of course, WIPO’s administrative panel concluded that there was no doubt that the developer was “aware of Tolkien’s works” and that he had created a website to “take advantage of the fame” of these titles.
NFTs resist (for now)
The site was taken down and the domain “jrrtoken.com” was transferred to the company that owns the intellectual rights of the universe of Middle-earth. The company also confirmed that it has obtained a commitment from the developer to cease all operations under the JRR Token name and delete any infringing content from all websites and social media accounts.
But the project has not completely disappeared. An NFT collection in the Open Sea marketplace resisted. Called the “JRR Tokens First 9 NFTs”, alluding to the nine rings given to men and belonging to the Nazgûl in Lord of the Rings, seven works are still on the platform, some still being negotiated. However, the profile that created the assets has been disabled.
Curiously, no NFT was mentioned in the case violation of rights in WIPO, but there is a reason for this. Turns out the complaint was filed by Tolkien’s lawyers in August, when the NFTs hadn’t even been publicized on the JRR Token project’s website and social media.
According to the blockchain transaction history shown in Open Sea, the non-fungible tokens were created on August 31st and listed or transferred the following day, September 1st. WIPO’s response to the case came on the exact same day.
It is still unclear what might happen to these NFTs. Legally, this type of asset is still the target of many questions and very few answers. Also, some tokens have already been sold, and their buyers have nothing to do with this rights dispute. However, it is unlikely that new tokens will be created and traded without consequences.
With information: The Verge, The Guardian, Financial Times