Legal and IP News

GoDaddy acquires blockchain trademark venture


The web hosting firm, GoDaddy, has acquired Cognate, a blockchain based trademark platform. Details of the deal are scarce, but in their announcement, Cognate said that their engineers would be joining GoDaddy.

What exactly is Cognate?

Cognate provides a trademark platform where your name and other brand assets can be recorded and confirmed. Not all trademarks need to be registered. There’s a concept of common law or unregistered trademarks, which can protect a business from somebody cloning their brand. But the issue is how do you prove which one was first? And that’s what spurred the Jess and Bennett Collen, father and son, to start Cognate.

Cognate uses a proof of use blockchain system where screenshots and other branded materials can be recorded with a time-stamped record. The company decided to use blockchain because it provides a transparent and immutable ledger. This means it is an excellent way to store data.

The usefulness for unregistered trademarks is apparent, but it helps for registered trademarks too. Registering a trademark doesn’t give you protection forever. In the US, if you stop using it for three years, it’s considered abandoned. So for registered trademark holders, having immutable proof that a trademark is still in use has utility.

The client can then use this record to prove, enforce, or maintain its trademark rights. For example, to stop others from using its name or copying its logo.

The announcement also hinted at future product development saying “there are some exciting things on the horizon!” More specifically, Cognate aims to release a tool that allows clients to access the information stored on the Cognate blockchain.

Other intellectual property blockchains

There are a few intellectual property blockchain applications. Koch Industries is working on a blockchain-based intellectual property licensing platform. EY and Microsoft announced a royalties blockchain for games. And in China, Baidu launched a copyright protection blockchain for media, especially photography.

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