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May 1, 2018,   1:55 PM

U.S. Judge Rules Alibaba Cannot Block Dubai-Based Cryptocurrency Developers From Using Similar Name

Samuel Wendel

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A U.S. judge this week denied Alibaba Group’s attempt to secure a preliminary injunction preventing the Dubai-based developers of the cryptocurrency Alibabacoin from using a similar name.

Alibaba Group filed a lawsuit last month in a U.S. District Court in New York against the Alibabacoin Foundation (or ABBC Foundation), saying they 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 is not affiliated with the ABBC Foundation. The court’s ruling on April 30 was with respect to jurisdiction. We will be submitting a new motion and are confident we will be able to put an end to this willful, concerted and unlawful scheme by the ABBC Foundation to exploit Alibaba Group trademarks,” said a spokesperson for Alibaba in an emailed statement to Forbes Middle East.

Upon filing the lawsuit, Alibaba Group initially succeeded in securing a temporary restraining order against Alibabacoin. In the ruling this week, Judge J. Paul Oetken dissolved the temporary restraining order issued against Alibabacoin, but did not prevent Alibaba from continuing to pursue its suit in his district.

In a statement emailed to Forbes Middle East last month, the Alibabacoin Foundation’s legal team denied the allegations, saying the word Alibaba does not belong to a certain entity or individual. “Alibaba.com may have protection afforded by the trademarks acquired, however, [the] word Alibaba is free of use in its legitimate business activities,” read the statement.

Alibabacoin Foundation’s lawyers contended that the lawsuit’s demand that it shut down all of its operations and start again with another name “is neither a reasonable or proportionate response to our client’s entirely legitimate use of an inherently generic word which emanates not from China, but indeed from the very region in respect of which your client would seek to prohibit its use.”

“Ali Baba” is the name of a character in the collection of Middle Eastern folk tales One Thousand and One Nights.

 The case is Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd v. Alibabacoin Foundation et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York.



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