Messaging company Telegram has filed a trademark suit against a Florida-based firm that seeks to make a cryptocurrency named “gram.”
The suit was filed on May 11 at the San Francisco branch of the US District Court for the Northern District of California. It claims that Lantah LLC breached Telegram’s service mark rights when it filed an trademark application for a “gram” in February.
The news was published first by legal publication The Recorder.
The Pavel Durov-bannered firm raised $1.7 billion from a group of less than 200 investors to fund the advancement of the future Telegram Open Network (TON), whose native cryptocurrency will be called GRAM.
However, in February Lantah LLC filed a trademark registration for “gram,” stating that it has plans to develop a “virtual currency for use by members of an on-line community via a global computer network.” That application was filed right after Telegram had started raising funds for its network.
Telegram claims that it has obtained “common law trademark rights” to GRAM since it has already done a “widely reported on and highly successful offering of Purchase Agreements” making use of the term. The firm went on to claim that Lantah is functioning in bad faith and wants to profit from brand confusion.
The complaint read:
“Lantah’s unauthorized use in commerce of a service mark that is confusingly similar to Telegram Messenger’s GRAM mark has caused and is likely to continue to cause confusion or mistake, or to deceive consumers and potential consumers, the public, and the trade concerning an affiliation, connection, or association between Lantah and Telegram when there is no such affiliation, connection, or association.”
Such brand confusion can have dire consequences. When Venezuela started accepting preorders for its “petro” cryptocurrency in the early part of this year, an unrelated token of the same name briefly experienced a pronounced price rally as confused investors purchased it thinking they were buying the state-backed token.
Daniel Jeffrey, the principal owner of Lantah LLC, told CCN in an emailed statement that, contrary to Telegram’s claim, Lantah was using the “gram” trademark before it was even aware that Telegram had decided to market a product under the same name.
“Lantah was publicly using the Gram name before we were even aware of Telegram’s decision to market one of their products with the same name. This was backed up by the availability of the trademark,” he said. “We are now having the matter reviewed by counsel.”
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