California Intellectual Property Blog


TikTok Seeks Trademark Registration for Cryptocurrency Services

TikTok cryptocurrency news

When TikTok was founded back in 2016, few realized that it would boast 1 billion users by September 2021. Its unexpected and meteoric rise very closely resembles that of cryptocurrency — digital coins that upwards of 50 million Americans are expected to buy in 2022. Surprisingly, a trademark application from TikTok seeking protection for cryptocurrency services seems poised to combine the two.

In an application submitted to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), TikTok has requested trademark rights over its TikTok brand name for cryptocurrency services. While the social media giant might seem to have no relation to digital currencies, this move didn’t come completely out of nowhere. It seems the brand has been building toward this for some time.

TikTok Cryptocurrency Trademark: What Does It Mean?

Of course, the company already has a trademark registration for TikTok. In fact, there are trademarks on file with the USPTO that go back at least as far as 2018. However, this doesn’t mean they can claim any rights related to cryptocurrency.

If the USPTO grants the application — which claims a first use in commerce date of December 2019 — it will expand the strength of the trademark and may prevent other companies from registering iterations of “tiktok” for any other type of goods or services. This seems like a massive leap for a short-form video platform, but the parent company Bytedance Ltd. already made waves with digital assets related to crypto coinage earlier this year.

What Does Tiktok Have To Do With Cryptocurrency?

TikTok and cryptocurrency might not stand out in your mind as connected. Back in September 2021, though, the brand launched its first NFT collection. NFTs are non-fungible tokens — essentially digital assets and artwork. While they don’t technically qualify as digital currency, they do utilize the same blockchain technology that makes virtual coins so accessible.

Of course, the first use in commerce alleged by Bytedance Ltd. dates back nearly a year before release of the NFT. The trademark specimen provided as evidence of commercial use is a screenshot of the TikTok Coins purchase page. TikTok Coins are an in-app currency that users cannot sell for real money, so they have some significant differences with digital coins like Bitcoin.

While you spend real money to buy TikTok Coins, only content creators can exchange them for money. This can only occur after they’ve been exchanged for in-app “diamonds” and given as gifts. While most people wouldn’t call these tokens a cryptocurrency, it’s possible that TikTok has larger plans in the digital coinage world. We can only wait and watch for their next move.

What Happens Now?

TikTok filed the application on December 4, 2021 and assignment to an examining attorney could take around four to six months. TikTok cryptocurrency services can still be provided, though, and the submitted application dissuades other potential applicants from filing similar requests. Considering the uniqueness of TikTok’s brand in they crypto world, it would be surprising if the application were not granted.


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