JRR Tolkien's estate wins ruling against 'JRR Token' cryptocurrency that violated trademarks

A screenshot from the now-deleted website selling the JRR Token cryptocurrency
"This was a particularly flagrant case of infringement." Photo credit: Supplied / JRRToken.com

A cryptocurrency has effectively been cast into Mt Doom after attempting to rip off Lord of the Rings author JRR Tolkien's estate by violating his trademarks.

JRR Token was first released in August and almost immediately the author's estate filed a complaint with the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) to stop it.

It's not hard to see why. The website JRRToken.com proudly advertised the cryptocurrency as "The One Token That Rules Them All", complete with what very much looks like a golden ring and scenery that wouldn't be out of place in Hobbiton.

That didn't stop the creators from trying to defend themselves, saying they chose the selected name because 'JRR' stood for 'Journey through Risk to Reward'.

WIPO didn't believe that.

"It does not appear that the website at the disputed domain name uses the term 'Journey through Risk to Reward'," it wrote in its decision.

Their rebuttal likely wasn't helped by the fact they had paid actor Billy Boyd, who played Pippin in Kiwi director Sir Peter Jackson's series of movies, around $145 for a Cameo video to hype JRR Token.

They posted that on Twitter along with a message saying: "JRR Token was created with a mind to have a stable and sustainable cryptocurrency that could be embraced by adventurous spirits around the World.

"Don't believe us? Well here is what Peregrin 'Pippin' Took thinks."

Boyd finished the video with the phrase: "Do I think they're going to the moon? There and back again", a reference to both a common cryptocurrency phrase and the alternative title to Tolkien's book The Hobbit.

As WIPO ruled against the JRR Token creators it said the cryptocurrency was designed to confuse people into believing it was related to the famed author.

It also concluded they had no rights or any legitimate interest in the domain name and that the registration and use of it had been done in bad faith.

The WIPO panel ordered the domain name to be transferred to Tolkien's estate. The Twitter account of JRR Token has also been deactivated and all actions related to the cryptocurrency halted.

According to reports an undisclosed sum was also paid to cover the estate's legal costs.

"The Tolkien estate has a duty to protect the JRR Tolkien name and the contents of his much-loved books," estate lawyer Steven Maier told the BBC.

"This was a particularly flagrant case of infringement. The estate believes this action sends a strong message that third parties will not be allowed to free-ride on the JRR Tolkien name and books for financial gain."