Apr 04, 2018 07:16 PM

Alibaba Sues Dubai-Based Firm Over ‘Alibabacoins’

The Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. office building in Beijing is seen Tuesday. Photo: VCG
The Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. office building in Beijing is seen Tuesday. Photo: VCG

E-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. is taking Dubai-based cryptocurrency operator ABBC Foundation LLC to court in the U.S., arguing that the latter’s issuance of “Alibabacoins” infringes on the e-commerce giant’s trademark.

“We will aggressively pursue actions to protect our trademarks and put an end to this willful, concerted and unlawful scheme by the ABBC Foundation to exploit Alibaba Group trademarks,” according to a statement in response to Caixin’s questions on Wednesday.

The statement emphasized that ABBC is not affiliated with Alibaba.

Reuters reported earlier that the Hangzhou-based Alibaba on Monday sued ABBC, also known as Alibabacoin Foundation, in U.S. District Court in New York City. The lawsuit accused ABBC of causing confusion by using Alibaba’s trademarked name to raise more than $3.5 million in cryptocurrency known as Alibabacoins.

In an email to Caixin, ABBC said that it couldn’t offer immediate comment because its founder and chairman, Jason Daniel Paul Philip, was away on a business trip.

While the ABBC website offers limited information on its corporate history, Philip said in a greeting message that the company “is truly going to become the leading blockchain specialist,” with plans to expand its services into more than 80 countries.

Industry watchers said more such legal actions will come as Chinese companies’ gain in stature on the global stage.

“There were already some cases in the past in both the U.S. and the EU. Chinese companies will inevitably be the target of intellectual property infringement in different parts of the world,” said Tao Jingzhou, managing partner of law firm Dechert LLP. “Chinese companies need to be well-prepared to fight court cases in this regard.”

In 2012, Apple Inc. paid a $60 million settlement to a Shenzhen technology company for the legal rights to use the iPad trademark in China.

Kon, a Beijing-based label for youth clothing, sued Apple in December. It claimed it owns the trademark to its logo, and Apple’s new App Store logo used on iPhones and the Macintosh operating system, macOS, is a violation of Chinese copyright law.

Kon is demanding 100,000 yuan ($15,900) in compensation, an injunction on those products and a public apology. Dongcheng District People’s Court in Beijing has accepted the case, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

Contact reporter Jason Tan (

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