What began as a joke about a fluffy puppy with bad language has now escalated into a trademark battle for ownership of an estimated $80 billion business. You are not alone if the evolution of this Internet craze has raised your eyebrows. The now-famous meme, which features a loving Shiba Inu dog named Kabosu whose inner monologue was plagued with grammatical and spelling problems, went popular in 2013 and even earned “top meme” of the year.
The misspelling of “dog” has left people’s heads spinning, with more and more individuals implementing “doge” in their vocabulary. The Doge meme penetrated the online world in hilarious or other pop-culture references. As if living in meme-infamy wasn't enough, software programmers Billy Markus and Jackson Palmer developed a new cryptocurrency dubbed “Dogecoin” as a prank in December 2013, in order to mock the wild speculation of existing cryptocurrencies. Despite being supposed to be worthless, Dogecoin was intended to be peer-to-peer digital money that might appeal to a broader population than the considerably bigger Bitcoin. When Dogecoin initially entered the trading market, it was only $0.00026 per coin, but in just 72 hours, its value had increased over 300 per cent to $0.00095 per coin.
While the coin's value varied over time, much like other cryptocurrencies, it surged in January and February of 2021 in response to supportive tweets from Elon Musk. In under 24 hours, the currency gained 800 per cent in valuation and was worth $0.07 per coin. However, its surprising surge only lasted until the spring of 2021, when the cryptocurrency reached $0.45 per coin on April 16. At the time, the cryptocurrency that started as a joke was worth almost $70 billion, making it the fifth-most valuable cryptocurrency. Dogecoin reached a high of $0.711 per coin in early May 2021, surpassing $80 billion.
With this massive growth in value has come a massive battle over who is the true owner of the “Dogecoin” brand, and respectively the sole rights to use it. As the proprietor of the cryptocurrency, Dogecoin's developers established a Colorado non-profit in 2014 called the Dogecoin Foundation. The Foundation, on the other hand, did not submit an application for DOGECOIN with the Trademark Office until August 2021. Be that as it may, almost a half-dozen additional DOGECOIN trademark applications were pending with the Brand Office at the time, each of which is now vying for the exclusive use of the DOGECOIN trademark. The Foundation shared that the purpose of Dogecoin was to make people’s smile, and thus registering with the USPTO was a waste of time. Obviously, this is not the case anymore, and now everyone asks: who owns the exclusive right in the trademark?”
Major concerns are those of priority and abandonment. The Dogecoin Foundation was dormant for several years after its inception in 2014, and it was just recently revived in August 2021. The Lanham Act will determine whether this is abandonment if usage was terminated with the desire not to resume such use. However, the Foundation has an uphill struggle since three years of inactivity constitutes prima facie proof of abandonment. At the time of no use, Moon Rabbit AngoZaibatsu LLC filed DOGECOIN covering blockchain software items, claiming rights over the mark. How will obtain the exclusive rights then? What does the future pose in terms of the trademark fight over the ownership of the billion dollars brand? The future is uncertain, however, the chances are that a new legal precedent will be included in the law textbooks.
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