Tron Foundation fails attempt to piggyback on Disney’s trademark

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) dismissed three trademark applications requested in connection with the Tron blockchain project after the American media giant Disney submitted notices of opposition and claimed that acceptance would lead to brand confusion.

Raybo Technology, a Chinese “partner” of the Tron Foundation, first filed its applications for the trademarks “TRON,” “TRONNETWORK,” and “TRONIX” in February 2018. Disney pushed back with formal filings in August, Raybo Technology failed to respond, and the USPTO has ruled in favor of Disney.

Raybo abandoned the applications in the first weeks of November. In its notices of opposition, Disney claimed that the new trademarks would infringe on the long history of the corporation’s use and licensing of its film series of the same name. In reality, Disney created a whole franchise around its 1982 film TRON, including a sequel film, an animated TV series, video games, music recordings, and a line of merchandise.

Disney points out that the Tron Foundation has chosen to present its name in all capital letters, which is very similar to Disney’s own TRON trademark. This move shows “bad faith” on the part of the Tron Foundation, the note says, and is likely to confuse Disney’s long-standing customer base. The Tron Foundation did not respond to Disney’s notice in the following nine months. As a result, according to the November filings, the patent office denied all three of its trademark applications by default.

“Tron obviously did not take the registration process seriously,” Jake Chervinsky, General Counsel for Compound, told online news site Decrypt. “They have never retained U.S. counsel to represent them, even though the USPTO has expressly required them to do so. They have failed to respond to the USPTO default notice, which means they gave up their trademark attempt entirely.”  

TRON foundation CEO and Founder Justin Sun took to Twitter to dispute the characterization of the ruling. Sun declared that TRON has a globally established brand, and its application was filed for a class of products that did not infringe on Disney’s patent. He announced Tron would continue to pursue its trademark in the United States.

Records show that Raybo Technology now holds nine trademarks in China, including the terms “Tron,” “TRX,” and “Tronix,” with further approval. 

There is nothing wrong with choosing to drop a trademark application when faced with a vigorous defense such as the one that Disney was prepared to launch, Chervinsky affirmed. But the correct way to deal with this situation is to withdraw the demand, not merely ignore the USPTO.

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