The New York lawyer who filed three weeks ago for a trademark on the use of the word Bitcoin “in financial services, namely, providing a virtual currency for use by members of an online community via a global computer network” is withdrawing the application today after a flood of angry anonymous emails.
And immediately filing applications for the trademark in other countries.
Michael Pascazi, the Fishkill-based attorney, filed the application on behalf of Magellan Capital Advisors LLC, a corporation that shares his address but which he maintains is a separate entity although “there’s interrelations. This is not someone off the street.”
Bitcoin enthusiasts were incensed at the application’s claim to “first use” of the word Bitcoin in commerce on June 22, 2011, the date the application was filed. As evidence, Mr. Pascazi submitted a letter from Celine Pascazi offering to sell Bitcoins for $17.50, also dated June 22. Bitcoiners say the digital currency has been in circulation since as early as 2009.
Mr. Pascazi is aware that Bitcoin has existed for a while. But he was skeptical that its use in commerce could be proven in court, he said.
“My understanding is that they are anonymous and untraceable,” he said. “So how would one prove that a person-to-person transaction occurred?”
Bitcoin transactions are like cash transactions as far as a court is concerned, he said–a.k.a., “not strong compelling evidence.”
“Nonetheless, my client has decided to withdraw the application in the United States because apparently there will be some sort of, there are lots of people interested and alleging they can prove first-to-use and so forth. So strategically that will happen today and simultaneously applications will be made in civil law jurisdictions around the world where the doctrine is first to file,” he said.
That includes France, Italy, Spain, Japan and possibly China, he said.
“In the spirit of capitalism, if somebody sees an opportunity, my view is they should be allowed to seize it and if it never develops into anything, well, nothing ventured, nothing gained,” he said.
Angry Bitcoin enthusiasts vented their resentment of Mr. Pascazi’s opportunism, mostly anonymously, in emails to him and in forums across the web. They threatened to legally oppose his application and even hinted at retaliating hacker-style with some sort of cyberattack or 4chan-style “doxing.”
But the attorney points out that he’s investing time and money into the painstaking process of filing trademark applications around the world, and if it bothers the Bitcoin community, well maybe one of them should have registered the trademark first.
“I don’t think you will find that mark registered in any country. If it in fact is so important to so many people, as I’ve received lots of indicators that it is, I sort of ponder the question, would I let that mark go unregistered if it were that important? Either it’s not important to them or it’s important but they’re not doing anything about it because… it’s easier to sit on your couch and complain than to do something,” he said.
Mr. Pascazi became interested in Bitcoin recently after reading about it. He’s a former electrical engineer who worked at IBM and then ran a fiberoptics telecommunications firm for 20 years. “I’m not just some guy who crawled out of a lawbook,” he said.