Business 16 May 2018

Gerald Fenech

Telegram sues Florida company over ‘gram’ name

Popular encrypted message service Telegram has filed a lawsuit against a company in Florida, which intended to launch its own cryptocurrency with the word ‘gram’ in it.

In the suit, filed last week in the US District Court of San Francisco for the Northern District of California, Telegram claimed Lantah LLC violated Telegram’s service mark rights when the latter filed for a trademark application using the word ‘gram’ in February, The Recorder first reported.

As already widely reported, Pavel Durov-owned Telegram has supposedly raised over $1.7 billion from a select group of 200 accredited investors and high net worth individuals to fund the development of what is being called the ‘Telegram Open Network’ or TON. The native cryptocurrency of this network is to be called GRAM.

However, these ambitious plans took a beating when Lantah LLC filed its own trademark registration for the cryptocurrency ‘gram’ with a bold statement that it intended to develop a “virtual currency for use by members of an online community through a global computer network.” Interestingly, the application was filed shortly after Telegram began raising funds for its own network.

Telegram is claiming that it already holds the trademark rights to ‘gram,’ which it had used to conduct a “highly successful offering of Purchase Agreements.” The text of Telegram’s suit does not mince words, stating that “Lantah’s unauthorized use in commerce of a service mark that is confusingly similar to Telegram Messenger’s GRAM mark has caused and is likely to continue to cause confusion or mistake, or to deceive consumers and potential consumers, the public, and the trade concerning an affiliation, connection, or association between Lantah and Telegram when there is no such affiliation, connection, or association.”

Such confusion is not new. In fact, when Venezuela launched its Petro currency earlier this year, a rival currency with the same name attempted to attract several duped investors who were led to believe that they were buying into the state launched cryptocurrency.

Daniel Jeffrey, principal owner of Lantah, insisted that his company was using the Gram trademark before being aware that it was being used by Telegram to market its own product. He said that they were seeking legal advice on the matter.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (SegWit) chain are referenced as BTC coins; tokens on the Bitcoin Cash ABC chain are referenced as BCH, BCH-ABC or BAB coins.

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