The journey of a new digital token potentially based on the works of British author J.R.R. Tolkien – known predominantly for “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings” novels – has come to a sudden halt thanks to the author’s estate.
Tolkien Crypto Comes to a Short Stop
The cryptocurrency was launched last August accompanied by the tagline “The One Token That Rules Them All.” Promoting the asset was a new video hosted by Billy Boyd, famous for playing the role of Pippin in the LOTR films. The following claim was made in the video:
Saruman was trying to unify Middle Earth under centralized rule, whereas the fellowship wanted decentralization. Cryptocurrency is literally a decentralized network.
The Tolkien estate did not find the video amusing, nor did they like the idea of a token based on their ancestor or his well-known literary works making its way through the financial space. The estate took quick action through the World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO’s) arbitration process, claiming the token was a copyright infringement and thus must be terminated immediately.
In addition, members of the estate say the domain name was designed to confuse and mislead people into believing that the asset had some direct or unique connection with the late author. The domain was JRRTOKEN.com. The estate alleges this an infringement given that only the I and the L were omitted.
The token developer defended the website name, claiming that it was designed less to reference the author and more to promote the cryptocurrency in question. In a recent statement, the developer – who remains unnamed at press time – said:
The introductory header on the website homepage ‘One Token That Rules Them All,’ referencing the famous phrase ‘One ring to rule them all’… produces a humorous difference in order to invoke the desired effect of a parody.
The arbitrator of WIPO opposed this verbiage, stating:
The respondent does not specify why the disputed domain name is humorous, funny or nail-biting, and not just a domain name chosen due to its similarities with the [Tolkien estate’s] trademarks to take commercial advantage of its evocation.
The developer also defended the use of JRR in the domain name, claiming that this did not come from the author. Instead, JRR is an acronym for “Journey Through Risk and Reward.” WIPO was quick to dismiss this claim, saying:
It is not clear to the panel what ‘Journey through Risk to Reward’ actually means, and why the term ‘journey’ is relevant to the purchase of tokens.
The Case Has Fallen Into the Cracks of Doom
The Tolkien estate has since recovered the domain name. Solicitor Steven Maier said:
The Tolkien estate is vigilant in preventing unauthorized parties from taking advantage of the JRR Tolkien name and the content of JRR Tolkien’s literary works. This was a particularly flagrant case of infringement, and the estate is pleased that it has been concluded on satisfactory terms.