Alibaba cannot block cryptocurrency firm from using similar name: US judge

By: |
May 01, 2018 4:24 AM

U.S. District Judge Paul Oetken in Manhattan said Alibaba did not show he had jurisdiction, having failed to establish a "reasonable probability" that Alibabacoin's interactive websites were used to transact business with customers in New York.

A U.S. judge on Monday rejected Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd’s bid for a preliminary injunction to block the Dubai cryptocurrency firm Alibabacoin Foundation from using the Alibaba name. (Reuters)

A U.S. judge on Monday rejected Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd’s bid for a preliminary injunction to block the Dubai cryptocurrency firm Alibabacoin Foundation from using the Alibaba name. U.S. District Judge Paul Oetken in Manhattan said Alibaba did not show he had jurisdiction, having failed to establish a “reasonable probability” that Alibabacoin’s interactive websites were used to transact business with customers in New York. The judge said it did not matter that Alibabacoin might eventually list its cryptocurrency on U.S. exchanges or that a New York company hosted one of its websites.

He also said any injury Alibaba might have suffered to its business, goodwill and reputation from alleged trademark infringement likely occurred in China, where the e-commerce retailer is based. The Chinese company had alleged Alibabacoin hurt its business in the United States, causing actual confusion among customers there, in violation of federal and state laws. A U.S.-based lawyer for Alibaba declined to comment. Lawyers for Alibabacoin did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Oetken dissolved a temporary restraining order issued on April 2 by another judge against Alibabacoin.

He also said Alibaba deserved another chance to show why the case belongs in Manhattan. Alibabacoin, which is also known as ABBC Foundation, has argued that it was not trying to piggyback off the Alibaba name. It has also said China’s ban on initial coin offerings in September eliminated a key source of potential confusion among consumers about its lack of ties to Alibaba. The case is Alibaba Group Holdings Ltd v. Alibabacoin Foundation et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 18-02897.

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