If you’re a newcomer to the world of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, it can be tough to navigate the various hard forks and “soft forks” Bitcoin has spawned—each essentially a clone of the original king of crypto.
There are now at least 44 Bitcoin forks floating around in the market, and a handful of those coins have amassed a large enough following to maintain significant trading volume. So you could be forgiven for confusing one “Bitcoin” for another.
Roger Ver, the CEO of Bitcoin.com and purveyor of the first Bitcoin hard fork, Bitcoin Cash (BCH), is evidently unconcerned by any possible confusion, further blurring the Bitcoin lines by launching a new “private, peer-to-peer exchange for Bitcoin Cash” called, er, Local Bitcoin.
The name, however, bears a striking resemblance to the old, private, peer-to-peer exchange for the original Bitcoin, called LocalBitcoins.
Ver’s Local Bitcoin exchange is set to open its doors next Tuesday, June 4. The idea for the exchange, says the Bitcoin Cash evengenlist, is to allow traders to buy or sell BCH directly from one another, both online and in-person, anonymously—no KYC required. It’s exactly the same idea behind the seven-year-old, Helsinki-based LocalBitcoins—only for, you know, Bitcoin—though this p2p exchange was recently forced to succumb to KYC compliance due to pressure from regulators.
So why call it Local Bitcoin when any one of the million other possible names for such a business would do just fine and be far less confusing?
“It’s good marketing,” Ver said. “It explains clearly what we are doing.”
That’s one way to look at it.
Another is to say Ver is being purposely misleading, and it wouldn’t be the first time that the Bitcoin Cash proponent has been accused of intentionally muddying the waters.
Last year, Ver was threatened with a lawsuit from a group “pro-Bitcoin” investors for allegedly misleading the public into thinking Bitcoin Cash was the genuine article through advertisements on Bitcoin.com.
Though the lawsuit never really got off the ground, his latest venture is sure to only fan these same flames.
While Ver may not technically be committing any wrongdoing by choosing to go with what is essentially the same brand as an already established business, it’s a practice that ought to be avoided, according to the Digital Media Law Project:
“As a general rule, if someone in a similar field to yours is already using a particular business or organization name, you should not use it, nor should you use a name that would be confusingly similar.”
Might LocalBitcoins have a right to a claim against Ver? Representatives for LocalBitcoins did not respond to Decrypt’s request for comment. But Ver is unconcerned.
“I don’t think there will be issues,” Ver said, “but I’m prepared for anything.”
Local Bitcoin is already racking up sign-ups at a steady rate with nearly 2,000 accounts created as of last Wednesday, according to a Reddit post by Ver.
Let’s hope they all know what they’re actually signing up for.