Trademark wars are nothing new, particularly in the US. On one hand, trademarks are an essential tool to protect an idea from unauthorized use. On the other hand, they are one of the tools corporations can use to exact their control over the market to hinder or otherwise prevent competitors from succeeding.
According to the US Patent and Trademark Office, blockchain platform Tron had three trademark applications rejected, which were for variations of the “Tron” name, that Disney argued would damage its brand.
Disney's Tron is a science fiction franchise where programmers live within a simulated futuristic digital world. The franchise consists of comic books, novels two movies, released in 1982 and 2010 and a TV series that aired from 2012 through 2013 and was canceled after 19 episodes.
Despite the mixed critical reception of the movies and underwhelming box office performance, Disney still dedicated theme park rides to the franchise and rumors exist about a third installment. Both movies have an IMDb rating of 6.8 and grossed a total of $205 million in North America and $433 million worldwide with a budget of $187 million. Disney claims that its customers seeking movies, theme parks and “enormously successful arcade games and video games” might find themselves diverted to Sun's project instead.
The Tron Foundation is an ambitious effort for a truly decentralized internet using blockchain technology, headed by Chinese billionaire Justin Sun as its CEO who raised $70 million in an ICO for the TRON (TRX) cryptocurrency in September of 2017 and has spent millions trying to attract developers to the project.
On August 6, Disney filed a Notice of Opposition pointing out that it owns a longstanding trademark for the word “TRON”. Its lawyers argued that Disney “believes that it is being damaged, and will be damaged, by the registrations.” Additionally, Disney pointed out that Tron had intentionally been capitalizing and styling its logos similarly to Disney's.
(5/6) Tron will continue to actively prosecute its trademarks in the United States. Tron has also already received trademark registrations in many other countries around the world.
— Justin Sun (@justinsuntron) December 21, 2019
Sun responded on Twitter saying “Tron will continue to actively prosecute (sic) its trademarks in the United States. Tron has also received trademark registrations in many other countries around the world.”