TL;DR: BTC shopping rewards platform, Lolli, placed a registered trademarked insignia, twice, next to the phrase, “Stacking Sats,” on their Frequented Asked Questions (FAQ) page. A trademark by definition means those who use such material without express permission can be legally, forcibly required to cease. It’s an unusual position for an open source software-based cryptocurrency business to employ, and Bitcoiners were taken aback.
Did Lolli Trademark the Phrase “Stacking Sats?”
Attorney Nelson M. Rosario explained to CoinSpice, “By utilizing the tm symbol Lolli is asserting at least asserting common law TM rights in the phrase ‘stacking sats’ with respect to a good or service they offer. They may or may not have filed a trademark application.” Stacking satoshis, accumulating fractions of bitcoin, stacking sats, is a phrase employed by many enthusiasts, regardless of the cryptocurrency project. It’s often used tongue-in-cheek to imply someone is doing well, earning or gaining on the speculative market. It came as quite a surprise when BTC rewards platform, Lolli, claimed to have trademarked the popular saying altogether.
A Bitcoiner noticed, remarking, “I was looking at @trylolli website and says that ‘Stacking Sats’ is a registered trademark, @matt_odell @MartyBent is this TM yours? First time I heard it it was from you,” referencing podcasters Matt Odell and Marty Bent. Cohost Bent responded, “Stacking Sats is a phrase that should not be trademarked. That’s all I have to say about that.” Odell himself tweeted, “smh.”
CoinSpice Live‘s Peter Ryan reached out to Lolli, asking about the trademark. “If malicious parties tried to stop other bitcoin companies from using ‘stacking sats,'” the company explained, “we would want to protect the term so that everyone could freely use it. Our intent was to protect the term for the community.” When Ryan asked indeed what if another company used it anyway, Lolli demurred, “I don’t think it should be up to us to determine who is good and bad. It should be up to the bitcoin community,” somewhat contradicting their earlier statement.
A Defensive Mechanism to Make Sure Malicious Parties Could Not Claim the Term
A few questions-in to Ryan’s query, and Lolli finally admitted, “We do not have the trademark. We simply used tm to establish that we are using the term ‘stacking sats’ in commerce.” Asked to define exactly what that means, the company stressed, “The action we took to show that we used ‘stacking sats’ was a defensive mechanism to make sure malicious parties could not claim the term and prevent good actors from using it to promote the adoption of bitcoin.”
Asked why they would put a trademarked notation next to the phrase twice if they didn’t apply nor actually have a trademark, Lolli stated flatly, “To establish that we are using the term in commerce. We are not planning on filing a trademark.” Ryan also pressed if the company seriously considered trademarking the phrase in any event. “We have been advised to trademark certain phrases for defensive purposes. So yes, we considered it and chose not to file well before the reaction,” referencing growing online outrage.
The issue is a sensitive one because cryptocurrency itself was born out of an open, free culture. Trademarks and patents are anathemas to enthusiasts generally, who view them as intellectually stifling impediments as well as anti-freedom. Compounding matters is the BTC community’s general use of censorship as a tactic, be it through Reddit forums or working to suppress Twitter accounts. Lolli, after being called out, did finally reference Odell, crediting him with coining the phrase. The company has since removed the trademark notations from their FAQ page as of this writing.
DISCLOSURE: The author holds cryptocurrency as part of his financial portfolio, including BCH.
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