In brief

  • Telegram has dismissed a case against a crypto company over its use of the GRAM trademark.
  • The messenger app firm had secured the trademark for its own crypto project, which collapsed in May.
  • Telegram has to pay the firm's legal fees.

Telegram, the company behind the 400-million strong messenger app, has voluntarily dismissed its case against another cryptocurrency company over the trademark for a GRAM cryptocurrency and must pay its legal fees. 

In 2019, the privacy-first messenger app company secured a preliminary injunction that barred Lantah, a small technology firm interested in issuing a GRAM cryptocurrency for “the world’s first Borderless Marketplace,” from using the term. 

Telegram claimed that it had the right to use the trademark for a cryptocurrency that would power its own blockchain project, the Telegram Open Network, which it started developing at the start of 2018—around the same time Telegram filed the lawsuit against Lantah. 

But in May 2020, the wind was sucked from Telegram’s sails. Telegram abandoned Grams, the cryptocurrency that would have powered TON, after a lengthy dispute with the US Securities and Exchange Commission over the $1.7 billion ICO for the blockchain network. 

The SEC alleged in October 2019 that Telegram’s ICO constituted an illegal securities sale. Telegram, believing that it had cleverly structured its token sale to avoid such allegations, fought the SEC for months. 

When the network failed to launch by May, that triggered a clause in Telegram’s contract with investors—after the deadline, Telegram had to return all of the money raised in its ICO. It abandoned the project two weeks later.

Telegram officially settled with the SEC on June 26. A few weeks before, on June 9, Telegram filed a motion to dismiss the trademark case against Lantah “without prejudice and without conditions.” 

Lantah’s attorneys fired back that Telegram should pay “reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs.” Telegram’s lawyers insisted Telegram shouldn’t have to pay. They contended that “the majority of Lantah’s costs were created by ‘its own (unsuccessful) litigation strategy,’” which they termed “excessive and avoidable”—after all, Telegram had won the request for a preliminary injunction against Lantah’s use of the trademark.

The court found that Lantah’s case was neither excessive nor avoidable. It ordered Telegram to pay Lantah’s court fees and vacate the preliminary injunction.

Finally, perhaps, Lantah’s dream is possible. According to its website, the advent of Lantah means that “fraud, friction, and the greedy middle man will no longer run our way of buying and selling goods and services!”

Telegram, apparently, got the message.