Lawyer Trying To Trademark Bitcoin Explains His Legal Theory

from the mock-away dept

We just wrote about how lawyer Michael Pascazi was trying to file for a US trademark on “Bitcoin,” which most people agreed was laughable. Making it even more ridiculous was that his attempt to prove use in commerce was apparently to have his wife send a letter to a relative of hers offering to sell some Bitcoins. The whole thing was quite dubious, but Pascazi himself stopped by our comments to elaborate.

First, he claimed that “for strategic reasons,” he and his wife had abandoned the US trademark filing… but, at the same time, they’ve commenced trademark applications in other countries, which have a first to file rule, rather than a first to use:

Simultaneously therewith, trademark applications have begun in those civil law countries, wherein, “first to use” status is not recognized as a defense to trademark registration. These civil law countries, which account for most of the world’s population, and land mass, only recognize a “first to file” basis for trademark registration. The penalties for infringing trademarks in those civil law “first to file” countries are as severe as the common law jurisdictions, such as the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, etc., which utilize a “first to use” basis.

Therefore, jumping up and down exhorting that “Bitcoin” has been in use in the USA, or another common law country, since the dark ages is no defense, repeat no defense, to a claim of infringement of a properly registered mark in a “first to file” jurisdiction.

Pretty shameless. He’s basically admitting that he has no actual rights to Bitcoin, but he’s going to try to use the fact that many countries (especially the EU and India) have a first-to-file system, to take ownership of the word. Thankfully, another lawyer, John William Nelson, who actually is an expert in these areas (Pascazi is not), explained why Pascazi’s new, extra slimy, scheme probably won’t work either:

Mr. Pascazi does not really understand trademark law, it appears. While he is correct that many civil law countries have a first-to-file process, that does not mean they have no ability to challenge the issuance of the mark.

A trademark must be a source identifier. In other words, Mr. Pascazi’s ‘client’ must be recognized as the source of a product by consumers if the mark Bitcoin is used.

As for enforcing international marks in the U.S., this is not as easily done as Mr. Pascazi would hope. Especially if he is able to obtain a registration abroad on such shaky grounds. It could still be subject to the same cancellation process as a U.S. mark.

The question is whether Mr. Pascazi will truly try and enforce a foreign mark on foreign soil. Paying international lawyers is not cheap.

And will he continue to maintain the mark and defend it against attacks?

Mr. Pascazi’s client is over-reaching. I recommend Mr. Pascazi or his lawyer consult real trademark attorneys about this. They might receive more thorough advice.

So, there you have it.

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Companies: magellan capital advisors, pascazi law

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Comments on “Lawyer Trying To Trademark Bitcoin Explains His Legal Theory”

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68 Comments
Chris Rhodes (profile) says:

It Boggles The Mind

I can’t tell if he’s trying to do this to make a point about something, or if he really is enough of a scumbag to think he’s in the right here.

I mean, he basically comes right out and says that he’s trying to do it just because he thinks he can get away with it. If he’s not just trolling, he really is the second biggest asshole I’ve heard of this week.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: It Boggles The Mind

Lawyers have been doing stuff just because they think they can get away with it for a long time. At this point, lawyers are educated by lawyers who were educated by lawyers who did that. Simply put, it’s part of the culture, and I think there are a lot of lawyers who view that as their job.

It’s pretty similar to the DC policy wonks. They are often so proud of themselves for finding loopholes and interpretations that prove them “correct” they don’t realize they’ve lost all moral standing in the process.

It’s actually a pattern you see in all sorts of areas: people get so involved in the “game” that they forget about the underlying purpose. (Kind of like how high schools are increasingly focused on making sure students can pass tests, rather than making sure they actually learn something)

MrWilson says:

Re: Re: It Boggles The Mind

This is a fundamental asshole-ish thought process from people who see that the world as dog-eat-dog/they’ll-screw-me-if-I-don’t-screw-them-first in nature.

The world is actually that way, but only because assholes make it that way. I see it that way, but I don’t feel that justifies me screwing over other people.

There’s no trust if everyone is always out to get their own. So then some people will jump at an opportunity to screw others with the least amount of effort and the most amount of profit possible.

And they’ll justify it by saying, “it was possible” or “they let me do it” or “stupid people willingly gave me their money.” Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: It Boggles The Mind

Indeed. And I feel the need to clarify my above comment by adding that I’m not talking about all lawyers (though I do love a good lawyer joke) because clearly there are lots of good eggs out there as well. I don’t know enough to say for sure that the good ones are the minority, though I must admit that’s the impression I get (then again, the same could be said for many, many subgroups of society)

DWG says:

Re: Re: Re:2 It Boggles The Mind

I appreciate this bit of thoughtfulness. As an lawyer and fair-use maximalist, it’s nice to see some openness to some of us not being third reich middle management graverobbing (on a good day) pickpockets (when times are tough). Lots of lawyers at the EFF. Lots who think less property rights = more stuff getting made.

Sorry to get personal, but one doesn’t get this chance too often around these parts. Cheers, mate.

RobM (profile) says:

Re: Re: It Boggles The Mind

Marcus Carab posted
“Lawyers have been doing stuff just because they think they can get away with it for a long time. At this point, lawyers are educated by lawyers who were educated by lawyers who did that. Simply put, it’s part of the culture, and I think there are a lot of lawyers who view that as their job.”

Add to that, lawyers are also probably a majority of the Lobbyists, Legislators, and Judges.

Nice Tidy package, isn’t it.

Julian Sanchez (profile) says:

A good heuristic...

…for evaluating claims like Pascazi’s,even if you don’t have any expertise in foreign trademark laws, is to ask: “If there were any validity to his little theory, why aren’t actual trademark lawyers *already* doing this whenever some promising startup fails to immediately register a trademark in every first-to-file country where it might eventually find a market?” One possibility is that Pascazi is vastly more clever than all the hundred of actual specialists in IP law. The other is that his avarice outran his comprehension. Take your pick as to which seems more plausible.

Michael S.Pascazi (user link) says:

Re: A good heuristic...

How about that “The Face Book” idea from those crazy kids up at Harvard. Think that idea might pan out? No Cali VC worth his/her salt will bet on that crazy idea, don’t you think? Do you really think that everyone is a lemming doing exactly what the other guys are doing?

Is there a better crypto-currency under development? Is there no room for improvement? Might a group of former IBMers be working on such a thing?

Well then, somebody better tell those crazy kids up at Harvard to quit their coding because that “The Face Book” thing just won’t cut it. Wrong!

PatrickDickey (profile) says:

Re: Re: A good heuristic...

Nope. Not a bunch of IBMers, I’m sure. Probably no one at all.

IANAL or an expert at anything. But, I’m willing to wager that if you are working on a “crypto-currency”, you wouldn’t even be allowed to mention that you’re working on a “crypto-currency” in public. And you most definitely wouldn’t be allowed to throw out ideas about who may or may not be behind said “crypto-currency”.

I would also be willing to wager, that when it comes time to actually get that Trademark, you’ll have to provide some concrete detail about what it’s being used for (in other words, put up or shut up). And a letter from your wife to your dog won’t suffice (as it didn’t this time).

You’re just as bad as the rest of the Patent Trolls (even if you’re just a Trademark Troll) and should end up being thrown out of court permanently. You shouldn’t be allowed to sue the garbage man for not picking up your trash.

Have a day:) (good, bad, or ugly, I really don’t care)
Patrick.

Anonymous Coward says:

Linux

This sort of thing has been done before. From Wikipedia:

In the United States, the name Linux is a trademark registered to Linus Torvalds. Initially, nobody registered it, but on 15 August 1994, William R. Della Croce, Jr. filed for the trademark Linux, and then demanded royalties from Linux distributors. In 1996, Torvalds and some affected organizations sued him to have the trademark assigned to Torvalds, and in 1997 the case was settled.

Michael S. Pascazi (user link) says:

Re: Linux

Settled, in a “first to use” country. Amazing. Too bad Torvalds was not represented by the incredible posters on this blog; he would have done better than settled, don’t you think? Why not jury verdict for the Plaintiff? It is an easy process; no? Slam dunk don’t you think? Throw some words out there about the unfairness of it all, the inhumanity of it all, poor old Torvalds, yada yada yada, and voila you win. I wonder how much Della Croce got to go away? Must have been a pretty penny. Oh, the insanity of it all!

Maybe you want to forward some of the pearls of wisdom over to Torvalds from this blog? Maybe he can get a do over? No res judicata in the blogosphere to worry about. Give it a try. Good Luck with that.

Michael S. Pascazi (user link) says:

Voglio Bitcoin in Italia

Dear Bloggers: If trademarking the term ?Bitcoin? is impossible, stupid, ignorant, outrageous etc.; Why all the fuss on this blog, and others? Does any one really care about an action that will never come to fruition? Of course not. But what they do care about, and care deeply, is an action that may come to pass, and moreover, that may hurt them in the wallet. Looking out for number one, pure and simple; that is the name of the game. So let?s not have any illusions about the motives of the blog moderator, and/or the various astute commenters.

Now if you care for a reality check (I know that the facts sometimes get in the way of the foul language): In most, but not all, ?first to file? countries, a trademark application can be defeated if it can be shown that the mark is so notorious, so ubiquitous, and so identified with a particular entity that, registration to another would be improper. I?m sure the bar stool lawyers out there can understand this. So, is the term ?Bitcoin? so notorious in Italy, for example, that when the average Italian on the street hears it, he/she immediately thinks of company zeta, and none other? Absolutely not. The same can be said for virtually every other country, including those with very large economies, such as China. In fact, it is virtually assured that no person or entity can claim that the term ?Bitcoin? is identified with them in Italy.

Now, thanks to you all in the ?bitcoin community?, the term ?Bitcoin? is absolutely, positively linked to Pascazi. Wouldn?t you agree? Just check the Internet. How many pages upon pages, posts upon posts link Pascazi to the term ?Bitcoin?. Interesting evidence to present to a tribunal vis a vis ?identified with? criteria; don?t you think?

Moreover, none of the bar stool lawyers or investigators out there in cyberville really know what is going on behind closed law office doors. Perhaps, there is a new crypto-currency under development, one that has a feature to prevent hoarding; one whose money supply attributes are tied to actual publicly reported, worldwide inflationary metrics? Or tied to the Gold Standard? Trade secrets are just that; secret. Perhaps the developer(s) of this new lucre want their currency associated with the term ?Bitcoin?? And why not? Because the blogosphere thinks it is a bad idea. To that proposition I reply, as Lt. Gen. Harry W. O. Kinnard did, to a German surrender ultimatum during the Battle of the Bulge, as follows: ?Nuts?.

By the way, thanks to all for the pages of spilled electronic ink. Could not have afforded it without you. P T Barnum once said: “I don’t care what the newspapers say about me as long as they spell my name right.” Maybe there is more going on than meets the eye? Again, food for thought. Arrivederci.

DogBreath says:

Re: Voglio Bitcoin in Italia

Now, thanks to you all in the ?bitcoin community?, the term ?Bitcoin? is absolutely, positively linked to Pascazi. Wouldn?t you agree? Just check the Internet. How many pages upon pages, posts upon posts link Pascazi to the term ?Bitcoin?. Interesting evidence to present to a tribunal vis a vis ?identified with? criteria; don?t you think?

I’m sure the term “douchebaggery” can just as easily be positively linked to “Pascazi” on the internet. You haven’t been paying very close attention to how this “internet” thing works.

As you may one day learn, just because you can find it on the internet, does not make it so (with the occasional “exception to the rule”, and no, I’m not referring to link Pascazi to the term ?Bitcoin?). I’m sure you’ll eventually figure it out, or some judges will do it for you just like what happened to Righthaven… and we’ll laugh and laugh… and keep on laughing.

P T Barnum once said: “I don’t care what the newspapers say about me as long as they spell my name right.”

If you’re referring to the theory “Any press is good press”, that really only works where bad behavior by people involved has actually resulted in positive results, due to the fame and press coverage accrued by such events. I don’t think that will work here. Nice try, but play the lotto next time. That way you’ll have a better chance at winning. (Maybe you should hire Charlie Sheen to help you. I hear he is pretty good at this “Winning” thing. At least that’s what he says.)

Michael S. Pascazi (user link) says:

Re: Re: Voglio Bitcoin in Italia

Could not agree more. Just because you write it on the Internet does not make it true. Getting to the truth involves an often long, painful, costly process, and as long as you are anonymous, I suspect that the truth won’t factor into much of what you say or do.

Oh, and you think the Circus is bad behavior concluding in positive results, hence PT Barnum’s comments. Well it is a thought.

Good luck with whatever it is you do, presuming there is something you do. Good Night Irene.

DogBreath says:

Re: Re: Re: Voglio Bitcoin in Italia

Getting to the truth involves an often long, painful, costly process, and as long as you are anonymous, I suspect that the truth won’t factor into much of what you say or do.

And as long as we know who you are, I suspect that the truth won’t factor into much of what you say or do either, but a judge sure will take it into account.

Oh, and you think the Circus is bad behavior concluding in positive results, hence PT Barnum’s comments. Well it is a thought.

The only Circus here is your attempt to do an end run around the legal process and score a goal (p.s. your football is out of air). Good luck with your “William R. Della Croce, Jr” scheme, hope no one ever figures it out… oops. Good Morning, Vietnam!

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Voglio Bitcoin in Italia

You do know that the name Michael S. Pascazi (I Hope I spelled that correctly) will always be associated with scam artist, and scum bag lawyer. Much like Casey Anthony, reguardless of guilt or Innocence, will always be associated with the phrase baby killer. The more you dig in yelling it is my right to do this, the worse it will get for you. It is the nature of the “party of we”.

We are now entering a time when the masses are yelling for justice, and truth. We have seen this with the arab spring, the chinese human flesh search engines, and anonymous to name a few. Were the Anonymous masses see people like you and realize you, and people like you, are everything that is wrong with this world.

Welcome the the internet, come see the great Egress, and don’t let the door hit you on the way out. (to misquote P T Barnum)

Chris Rhodes (profile) says:

Re: Voglio Bitcoin in Italia

This has to be someone trolling. I refuse to believe that even a lawyer can be this much of an asshole.

Pretty funny though, I’ll give the puppeteer that much. And he gets bonus points for including the link to the guy’s webpage. I imagine that the real Pascazi will see some not-so-funny (for him) real life consequences out of it too, so that’s just icing on the cake .

DogBreath says:

Re: Re: Voglio Bitcoin in Italia

This has to be someone trolling. I refuse to believe that even a lawyer can be this much of an asshole.

Maybe even a Righthaven lawyer playing a practical joke. Seeing as how they are having a ton of free time on their hands these days with their cases going straight down on the mat for the 10 count.

Or, just maybe… it’s Verizon out to get him for suing them for $US20 billion for collaborating with the US government. Remember, the secret government may not get you today, but it never forgives or forgets.

/conspiracy_rant

I imagine that the real Pascazi will see some not-so-funny (for him) real life consequences out of it too, so that’s just icing on the cake .

Well his WOT(Web Of Trust) rating is way down.

Nicedoggy says:

Re: Voglio Bitcoin in Italia

Why do you want to use Bitcoin since others are already using it all over the world?

Why not pick another name to differentiate your hinted new wonderful product?

Why does it need to appropriate something that is already being used?

If trademark law has any sense people will just notice that allowing that trademark will bring confusion to a market where there is none today, it also will also will realize their function to exist by protecting the public from people like you.

Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile) says:

You’ve got other stuff out there as well, linking Michael S. Pascazi to, say… fraud:

http://www.nysb.uscourts.gov/opinions/cgm/118566_57_opinion.pdf

Consultants alleged that the Debtor breached the contract, and that Pascazi and Zarzeka each misappropriated $625,000 in a scheme to defraud Consultants. The case was assigned to the Honorable James V. Brands. Justice Brands granted Consultants?cross-motion for summary judgment on Consultants? third cause of action, for fraud, against Zarzeka and Pascazi, awarding judgment against each in the amount of $62,500 (ten percent of the amount misappropriated), together with costs and disbursements.

Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Or in relation to Dept. of Labor violations:

The Department commenced a post-petition proceeding by notice of hearing dated March 30, 2006, against the Debtor, Pascazi, Zarzeka, and Fiber Optek Service Co. (the ?Proceeding?).

The Court notes again that the Debtor is a defunct corporation represented by a trustee. The Proceeding was commenced to determine whether the parties violated Article 8 of the Labor Law, ?? 220 et seq. by failing to pay prevailing wages to 13 workers on about a dozen projects.

http://www.nysb.uscourts.gov/opinions/cgm/118566_160_opinion.pdf

darryl says:

Re: MUCKRAKER

We have your spin-doctor and your muckraker who will ‘dig up the dirt’ on your ‘enemies’, also you have your campain manager, speach writer,, and a ‘fall guy’, ……. ‘Exxxxxxcelllent !!!!! ‘

“Spin Doctor”

* Selectively presenting facts and quotes tha tsupport one’s position (CHERRY PICKING)
* Non-Denial denial
*Phrasing in a way that assumes unproven thuths
Euphemisms to desguise or promote one’s agenda.
*”Burying bad news”: announcing one popular thing at the same time as several unpopular things, hoping that the media will focus on the popular one.

Have they missed anything ?? do you see yourself (and Mike) in that description ???? I sure do..

Bergman (profile) says:

This sort of thing happened in Australia, a while back. I don’t know if it’s still true, but a friend of mine (back in the 90s) told me about how the sport of paintball got patented there. Never mind that it was a sport played in quite a few countries, Australia’s patent office either didn’t do due diligence, or granted a first-to-file patent (I’m not sure which), making it illegal to play paintball in Australia unless you paid a licensing fee to the patent holder (and he only licensed his patent to people who bought franchises from him).

DogBreath says:

Re: Re:

I bet Michael S. Pascazi will be heading there, to patent “Tag” and “Hide And Go Seek”, because he can.

Parents of children in Australia, be prepared to pull out your checkbooks and pay a licensing fee to allow your kids to play. Of course this will only cover your kids playing in your own home. If they want to play outside, that will be considered a “public performance” and cost extra.

Gene Cavanaugh (profile) says:

first to file and first to invent in trademarks

What sort of “experts” are you consulting? The US is the only first to invent country; check Wikipedia (I am shocked that you haven’t already!).
“The United States is unique in using a first-to-invent system. Canada and the Philippines had similar, although slightly different, systems until 1989 and 1998, respectively.”
Further, the US is in the process of changing to first to file, thank Heavens!

AndyB (profile) says:

Currency

I’d like to know how someone can possibly trademark a currency.

There may be another crypto-currency under development, probably more than one. We as the users need to make sure however that we support the one that is not being developed and control by any governments or banks as I am sure they are monitoring the rise of Bitcoin a lot closer than we like to think.

The battle of trademarking Bitcoin in a few select counties may be yours Mr. Pascazi but you don’t stand a chance of winning this war.

RawDogFan says:

Is this guy for real?

“Perhaps, there is a new crypto-currency under development, one that has a feature to prevent hoarding; one whose money supply attributes are tied to actual publicly reported, worldwide inflationary metrics? Or tied to the Gold Standard?” I’m pretty dam sure Asshole Pizzakey douchebag at law isn’t developing a new crypto-currency. Why does he refer to himself as “his client”?????

kingston says:

while he is at it he should trademark 'corn' too

he will probably be the first one to file on that one too.
anyway, if someone still doesn’t understand the dude’s motives – it is publicity.

just that in his case when potential customers of his will google his name and they see that he tried to trademark bitcoin which is like trade marking the dollar – they will understand to take their business elsewhere….

Chebagjokelaywer Somedou says:

Re: The Wheel

Mr. Bob,
Your recent use of our protected trademark The Wheel(tm)(R) (U.S patent 77823666) without being licensed by our
company as official Driver(tm)(R) has come to our attention.
We advice you to cease and desist and take down the offending comment otherwise we will have to pursue this
infringement and dilution of trademark by all legal means.

Sincerely,

Somedou Chebagjokelaywer

DogBreath says:

Re:

I know the difference, but if you can’t see how the line is constantly being crossed between the Patent, Trademark and Copyright laws all the time, then you haven’t read or properly comprehended the information that is presented here on Techdirt. There is no hope for you in understanding the coming age of the “Patent/Trademark/Copyright All-In_One” law that will be headed your way in the future.

And “Troll” is such a tiny word, so tiny. I doubt you’ll ever change (and please don’t, as you make myself and the others laugh so very much) you “Town Drunk of the Internet”. LOL!

dwg says:

A good heuristic...

How about that “House Un-American Activities Committee” thing? That sure took off for a while. Dude, you’re really digging yourself a hole, in public. You’re saying that a business plan that stems from a definitely disingenuous position and possibly fraudulent filing with a federal office might be a good idea because it might take off like Facebook. It’s almost like you think that what you post here is private, or will disappear–you know that’s wrong, right? That you’re now on the record promoting unethical and possibly illegal practices for simple pecuniary gain? When this shakes out, your state’s bar should have to look no further than this very page for evidence with which to discipline you.

Way to represent for the profession, asshole.

DogBreath says:

Re:

The fact that someone can be issued a patent for the wheel in Australia shows just how broken the system is now. That you can even get a patent on how to swing a swing in the U.S.A should be cause for alarm. Best bet is to keep the kids off the playground altogether, otherwise they may unknowingly violate someones patent by doing something obvious to a child, but not to a patent examiner. Even if you win in court by getting the patent invalidated, your kid won’t be going to college as mommy and daddy had to spend all the college money to defend themselves in court against the patent troll(s).

dwg says:

Voglio Bitcoin in Italia

“Interesting evidence?” Yes, like it’s interesting to watch a train wreck. Interesting like how Anthony Weiner is now inextricably linked to Twitter. Just because your name is associated in some way with “Bitcoin” doesn’t make you an inch closer to being recognized as the SOURCE of the thing–just linked, in the case, to an attempted fraud perpetrated on the USPTO and the public. Each of your posts is like a nail in your professional coffin. “Interesting!” the state bar will say, when reading your posts for evidence in your disciplinary hearing. The one good thing I can say about you is that you’re taking care of the dirty work of burying yourself and that the rest of us don’t have to lift a finger. Thanks for that.

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