China’s Alibaba filed a lawsuit this week against a cryptocurrency under development in Dubai called Alibabacoin, saying its creators intentionally used the Chinese e-commerce giant’s trademarked name in an attempt to raise more than $3.5 million in an initial coin offering (ICO).
Alibaba Group filed the lawsuit in a U.S. District Court in New York, stating that the legal action arose from an unlawful scheme to misappropriate the company’s “renowned brand name in order to deceive investors in the U.S. and around the world with a single-minded focus to capitalize on [the] Plaintiff’s reputation for success.”
The lawsuit lists a number of defendants associated with the cryptocurrency: the Alibabacoin Foundation (or ABBC Foundation), ABBC Block Chain IT Solutions LLC, Alibabacoin General Trading FZE and Alibabacoin Foundation LLC, as well as Jason Daniel Paul Philip and Hasan Abbas.
The Alibabacoin Foundation website identifies Jason Daniel Paul Philip as its founder and CEO, and Hasan Abbas as its co-founder and chief technology officer. It also lists the organization as having offices in Dubai and Minsk, Belarus. Other firms associated with the cryptocurrency in the suit, such as ABBC Blockchain IT Solutions, are also listed as having Dubai addresses.
As of press time, the Alibabacoin Foundation had not responded to Forbes Middle East’s request for comment. The foundation lists Hamdan AlShamsi Lawyers & Legal Consultants as its legal representatives on its website.
The lawsuit argues that Alibabacoin’s developers intentionally tried to mislead the public into believing the cryptocurrency was linked to Alibaba Group, and points to examples in the white paper posted on its website. “[The] defendants prominently feature trademarks owned by Alibaba Group Holding, in whole and without alteration, in countless instances in materials they make publicly available on the internet, including in offering materials that solicit investment from investors in the U.S. and elsewhere,” reads the filing.
According to its website, Alibabacoin’s ICO is being conducted in stages, with the first stage held between March 1 and March 15, 2018. A second stage was supposed to begin on March 16, 2018, with the cryptocurrency set to be listed on exchanges later this year. It is unclear currently how much Alibabacoin has raised to date.