JRR Tolkien’s lawyers shut down LOTR-themed cryptocurrency

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JRR Tolkien’s lawyers shut down LOTR-themed cryptocurrency
Lawyers of JRR Tolkien’s estate have pushed the Lord of the Rings-themed cryptocurrency into Mt.DoomBI India
  • ‘The one token to rule them all’ has been ordered to shut down and halt all trading.
  • The JRR Token project has lost the lawsuit filed by the ‘Lord of the Rings’ author’s family and estate.
  • According to the estate’s lawyer, the JRR Token project was a “particularly flagrant case of infringement.”
It was only a little over two months ago that developer Matthew Jensen went public with the JRR Token calling it the ‘The One Token That Rules Them All.” The actor who plays Pippin, Billy Boyd, even endorsed the token during a YouTube interaction.

However, four days later, the legal body that manages the JRR Tolkien’s estate — the author of The Lord of the Rings — filed a complaint with the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO).

And, now, Jensen has reportedly been asked to shut down and remove all content that infringes on the famous franchise, according to Law360. At the time of writing this article, JRR Token’s website, Twitter account and YouTube channel have been disabled.

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The WIPO panel members refused to believe Jensen’s defence that his token has nothing to do with The Lord of the Rings or that he was not purposefully trying to draw a parallel between the two.

“There is not doubt that the respondent (Matthew Jensen) was aware of Tolkien’s works and create a website to trade off the fame of these works.”

WIPO panel member John Swinson’s statement as cited by Law360

Even though Jensen is off the hook for now, he still has to pay the state's legal costs, which weren’t disclosed.

Beg, borrow, steal


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It may have been a good idea to get the rights to use references from the fantasy series before launching a blockchain project that borrows heavily from it. The JRR Token’s explainer video — now removed from YouTube — included images of green countryside, which looked a lot like the Shire, home of the Hobbits and the text overlay had an eerily similar font to the one used in The Lord of the Rings.

Moreover, the project’s whitepaper read like the inscription on Golum’s ‘precious’ ring.

JRR Tolkien’s lawyers shut down LOTR-themed cryptocurrency
First part of the JRR Token's whitepaperJRR Token whitepaper

You shall not pass


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When Tolkien’s estate initially filed the complaint on August 10, Jensen took the original website called ‘JRRToken.com’ and switched over to ‘TheTokenofPower.com’. However, the new website still contained images of rings, Hobbits and wizards that looked a lot like Gandalf.

According to the lawyer for Tolkien’s estate, Steve Maier, the overlap was a “particularly flagrant case of infringement.”

However, Jensen’s lawyers argued that the lawsuit didn’t hold weight since ‘JRR Token’ doesn’t include the letters ‘L’ and’ I’ and isn’t even pronounced the same way. According to them, Jensen’s JRR actually stood for ‘Journey through Risk to Reward’ and is not a reference, in any way, to The Lord of the Rings author.

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All of which may have been believable if the project had stayed away from the general aesthetic of The Lord of the Rings — and perhaps Pippin as well — which was clearly not the case. And, even before being shut, the reviews weren’t particularly encouraging with many questioning if the JRR Token was even a real cryptocurrency.

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