The Intersection of FinTechs and Trademark Law: Focus on Cryptocurrency

Uche Ewelukwa Ofodile - University of Arkansas School of Law
Vol. 53
Page 141
Financial technologies (FinTechs) are disrupting the financial services sector in significant ways. FinTechs are not only redefining the financial services sector, but are also changing and challenging other areas of law, including securities law, tax law, and intellectual property law. This Article begins discussions on the intersection of FinTechs and intellectual property law and practice. The focus is on cryptocurrency. Because cryptocurrencies are created and disseminated using distributed ledger or blockchain technology, they offer a good entry point into discussions about intellectual property and the FinTech Sector. A review of case law and trademark practice suggests that two questions are becoming increasingly important. First, are the names and designs of cryptocurrencies registrable as trademarks? In other words, can the names of crypto coins and associated products and services be trademarked? Second, from the standpoint of trademark law, what legal risks and liabilities can arise from the creation, launch, and sale of a cryptocurrency? This paper takes up the second question while the first question is addressed in a different paper. The conclusion reached is that trademark law is vitally important, even in the world of virtual currencies, including cryptocurrencies, and that FinTech startups ignore prevailing trademark laws at their own peril.
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