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Alibaba sues Dubai’s Alibabacoin

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A Dubai-based cryptocurrency company called Alibabacoin Foundation has rebuffed allegations of trademark infringement brought against it by the giant Chinese online retailer Alibaba Group Holding in a US lawsuit last week.

Hours after the lawsuit was filed, US District Judge Kimba Wood issued a temporary restraining order directing Alibabacoin to explain on April 11 why it should not be enjoined from further alleged infringements.

The case

In a complaint filed in US District Court in Manhattan, Alibaba said Alibabacoin Foundation’s “prominent, repeated, and intentionally misleading” use of its trademarks is designed to confuse consumers to think its products are affiliated with or endorsed by the Chinese online retailer.

In response, Alibabacoin Foundation’s lawyers said the company had no intention to infringe on Alibaba’s intellectual property and that the lawsuit’s demand for it to shut down and restart with another name was “neither a reasonable or proportionate response to our client’s entirely legitimate use of an inherently generic word which emanates not from China, but indeed from the very region in respect of which your client would seek to prohibit its use.”

Alibaba accused Alibabacoin of using its “single-minded focus to capitalize on plaintiff’s reputation for success” by using its trademarks “without alteration, in countless instances” to sell cryptoassets.

Despite Alibaba having repeatedly said “it is not interested in moving into the cryptocurrency space,” confusion over its role has spread through media, and Alibabacoin has “done nothing to combat or correct this confusion”, the complaint said.

Ali Baba is the name of the protagonist in the popular Middle Eastern folk tale “Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves”.

Alibaba Group Holding is one of the world’s biggest e-commerce companies. -Al Jazeera