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Lord of the Rings cryptocurrency taken to task by JRR Tolkien's estate

·2 min read
UNSPECIFIED - APRIL 06: In this screengrab, Andy Serkis (as Gollum) participates in a tribute to Peter Jackson, winner of the VES Lifetime Achievement Award, during the 19th Annual VES Awards Gala on April 06, 2021. (Photo by VES 2021 via Getty Images)
Gollum, the character played and voiced by Andy Sekis, from JR Tolkien's 'The Lord of the Rings' trilogy. (Photo by VES 2021 via Getty Images)

A cryptocurrency named after the legendary writer JRR Tolkien has been taken to task by "The Lord of the Rings" author's estate. 

The new digital coin "JRR Token" was first launched in August 2021. At the time a Twitter account linked to the token had tweeted: "Saruman [sic] was trying to unify Middle Earth under centralized rule where as the fellowship wanted decentralization. Cryptocurrency is literally a decentralized network…"

According to The Verge, the website and video said that "Tokenites" — owners of the token — would earn more of that currency as more people join the network. It also said that a portion of every transaction would be added to a "liquidity pool". 

The estate says the product infringed its trademark rights to the JRR Tolkien name and made other use of the intellectual property in JRR Tolkien’s world-famous works.

Watch: What are the risks of investing in cryptocurrency?

The estate has recovered the domain name <jrrtoken.com> via the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) arbitration procedure, with the developer unsuccessfully opposing the claim.

Action from the estate also stopped the developer operating under the offending name and made it delete the infringing content from all relevant websites and social media accounts.

As such, the Twitter account has now been deactivated, with marketing materials such as videos removed from the internet.

The developer, based in the United States, has paid the Estate’s US and UK legal costs in an undisclosed sum.

“The Tolkien Estate is vigilant in preventing unauthorised parties from taking advantage of the JRR Tolkien name and the content of JRR Tolkien’s literary works," said the estate’s solicitor, Steven Maier, acting in the US. 

"This was a particularly flagrant case of infringement, and the Estate is pleased that it has been concluded on satisfactory terms.”

Read more: Bitcoin plunges by nearly 5% as cryptos sink in red

The estate has recently taken legal action against other providers of tourist services, accommodation, and merchandise making unauthorised use of the Tolkien and JRR Tolkien names.

This is the latest of example of a cryptocurrency running afoul of a global brand. Earlier in November a token inspired by the hugely popular South Korean Netflix (NFLX) series "Squid Game" turned out to be a scam, with its developers reportedly making off with around $3.4m (£2.5m).

The currency, called Squid, marketed itself as a "play-to-earn cryptocurrency", where people can earn more tokens in online games, which can be exchanged for other cryptocurrencies or national currencies. It was sold as a way to play an upcoming online game based on the series.

Watch: Digital currencies - China will get there first, says Hammond