The estate of JRR Tolkien, the author of the Lord of the Rings, has successfully vanquished a cryptocurrency that styled itself as “The One Token That Rules Them All”.
The JRR Token cryptocurrency launched in August, with a website that featured rings, hobbit holes and a wizard with an uncanny resemblance to Gandalf.
But the Tolkien estate, which handles the rights to JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings fantasy novels, quickly stepped in to lodge a complaint with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the global forum for intellectual property policy.
It noted that the cryptocurrency’s website domain name infringed its trademarks. Tolkien’s novels have been made into a trilogy of Hollywood films, directed by Peter Jackson and starring Ian McKellen.
In response, lawyers for Matthew Jensen, JRR Token’s Florida-based developer, said that “token” was a generic term, should not be confused with the surname Tolkien, and it did not infringe any intellectual property.
But the WIPO administrative panel decision concluded that there was no doubt that the developer was “aware of Tolkien’s works and created a website to trade off the fame of these works”.
The Tolkien estate said it had now recovered the JRRToken.com domain name and had obtained the developer’s undertaking to stop all operations under the JRR Token name and delete any infringing content from all relevant websites and social media accounts.
Steven Maier, solicitor at law firm Maier Blackburn which acted for the JRR Tolkien estate, said this was a “particularly flagrant case of infringement” and added that the estate was “vigilant” about preventing unauthorised parties from taking advantage of the JRR Tolkien name.
In the past the Tolkien estate has sued tourism and merchandise companies for making use of the author’s name and literary works but this is the first time it has taken action against a cryptocurrency.
Johnson Dalal, the US law firm representing Jensen, has been contacted for comment, but had not responded by time of publication.