A Failed Zcash Sticker Store Idea

Hi Fellow Zcashs and Forum Regulars

My name is Jay im a Mod on the Zcash Telegram group

I have a short story to share with you.

2 weeks ago I had an idea to print some Zcash stickers and sell them on a store where Zcashers all over the world can buy cool Zcash stickers and stick them all over the place. I ordered some 250 stickers with the Classic Zcash logo, got an eye-catching domain and set up a website.

In addition, to mitigate against any misunderstanding I have made sure that

  1. It clearly states on the website it’s an unofficial sticker store
  2. It is not hurting the brand
  3. The website has a clear disclaimer that it is unaffiliated not endorsed nor licensed by the ZFND or ECC
  4. Links clearly to the Official Zcash and ECC website.

Last week I was made aware that the Zcash logo might be trademarked and I might not be able to sell the stickers only if I signed a trademark license agreement. I reached out to ZFND and they have confirmed; that is indeed the case. I would need to sign a trademark license agreement and I would need to get my real name address and signature on the agreement.

I am very reluctant to provide my name address and signature and tied in legally just for selling stickers. It has been made to me clear that if I were to go ahead the website would be flagged and taken down.

I, for one, think privacy is a human right and don’t think I should need to divulge my personal details just to sell Zcash stickers on the internet to Zcashers over the world.

Here is the store I was hoping could spread Zcash all over the world.

Stickerz.cash

The store in inactive and you cannot buy anything.

What do you zpl think?

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I want to add for clarity that like all and any legal agreements; an agreement with the ZFND would mean i would need to provide my legal name address and signature. I want thank @Winfred for her effort and time used to facilitate the comms between ZFND and myself.

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Also it is within the Zcash Trademark Policy, that revenue generating use may require a trademark agreement and by extension a requirement to provide legal identification

No worries mate, happy to help wherever I can. It does seem to me though, like your issue is the stipulations of the Zcash Trademark Policy, and not the experience you had with the Zcash Foundation, as ZF was only acting in accordance with the requirements of given policy :slightly_smiling_face:

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Hi @JRGB welcome to the forums.

As the Zcash Foundation has already mentioned to you the Zcash name and logo is trademarked to keep bad actors (like scammers/fake wallets/investing website, etc…) from taking advantage of users by pretending to be something they are not.

From your perspective I can see how the rule may seem heavy-handed or overly protective, it’s just a few stickers, right? But enforcement is not done to be punitive, to understand why it is this way have a read through:

Basically it is the TM holders responsibilty to police the use of the TM or else they risk losing the trademark if it were to be challenged in a court of law.

However, a failure to enforce a trademark by monitoring the mark for misuses will result in a weakening of the mark and loss of distinctiveness, which can lead to a loss of the trademark.

If you were to give the stickers away for free then it may fall under section called “promotional goods”

"Promotional goods” are non-software goods that use the Marks and that are intended to advertise Zcash, promote Zcash, or show membership in the Zcash community.

You may make promotional goods for free giveaway.

I agree with your point about privacy being a human right, but to be clear: if you are using the mark for your own commercial interests then you will be in violation of the TM if you do not receive permission from Zcash Foundation first , it’s as simple as that.

So as much as I know you may find this discouraging, or not “private” enough due to the legal requirements, the law is the law.and has to be applied equally.

As owner and operator of zcashcommunity.com I too had to sign a TM agreement to continue to run the site (even though I’m not selling T-shirts/stickers/mugs anymore since I closed the shop a couple years ago) just because I’m a Mod here, I don’t get special treatment.

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Hi @Shawn

Thank you for your perspective.

Basically it is the TM holders responsibilty to police the use of the TM or else they risk losing the trademark if it were to be challenged in a court of law.

By this metric ZFND already have lost the TM. There is tons of Zcash branded stuff available online for years. I am fairly positive not many if all have a TM agreement. And i dont think it has been enforced.

I agree with your point about privacy being a human right, but to be clear: if you are using the mark for your own commercial interests then you will be in violation of the TM if you do not receive permission from Zcash Foundation first , it’s as simple as that.

While that is technically true. i dont think its a good idea to look it as ‘own commercial interest’ my intention was to spread zcash stickers all over the world. Seeking to frame it as a it for my ‘own commercial interest’ seeds distrust and i feel, is unfair.

As owner and operator of zcashcommunitydotcom I too had to sign a TM agreement to continue to run the site (even though I’m not selling T-shirts/stickers/mugs anymore since I closed the shop a couple years ago) just because I’m a Mod here, I don’t get special treatment.

Here, i fear you misunderstand. I do not request special treatment. Never have. I was just introducing myself. We’re talking about open-source decentalized protocols here, one specifically focused on privacy-preserving technology to empower people with economic freedom. Again, I think IP ownership rights should be protected. I am disappointed that a protocol that is supposed to be decentralised and privacy focused would not have a mechanism that can actually execute those ideals.

I think the TM policy should be looser. I dont see

  1. Why if someone is earning a profit would they need a TM agreement if
  2. The website clearly states its an unofficial sticker store
  3. It is not hurting the Zcash brand
  4. The website has a clear disclaimer that it is unaffiliated not endorsed nor licensed by the ZFND or ECC
  5. Links clearly to the Official Zcash and ECC website.

As the Zcash Foundation has already mentioned to you the Zcash name and logo is trademarked to keep bad actors (like scammers/fake wallets/investing website, etc…) from taking advantage of users by pretending to be something they are not.

That is a good point i want to point out that i have made myself known that i am operating the store.

I think that is a good remedy to that problem.

3 Likes

I think I’m missing something here in your (arguably noble) intent. You were in fact intending on engaging in commercial business activities. There is no question about that.

Selling a tangible business product (printed matter) to the public IS commerce.

Let’s look at this privacy issue, and congruence of the reasons you sited for wanting to ‘shield’ (bad pun, I know) your identity in the form of your name as legal agent and business address of record.

Did your merchant gateway (‘Authorize . net’, PayPal, Stripe, Square, etc.) permit you to enter into a commercial relationship with them under the terms of the anonymity you cite as being the reason for you declining to engage in a TM agreement with ZF?

Did you provide truthful and legally serviceable contact information for yourself when registering the domain, “STICKERZ.CASH”, irrespective of whether you chose to use a privacy agency (legal, servicable agent) to show on public WHOIS record for this domain registration?

Did you provide a fake address for yourself with the printer/vendor when ordering the stickers, opting to ship to some third party anonymizing physical address, for that product?

Have you provided fraudulent or incorrect data with regards to your legal name, physical address, phone number, Social Security number, birthdate, etc., to your bank when setting up the bank account where funds from your commercial activity will be placed by your merchant provider?

I pose those questions rhetorically, since the point here is not that you were seeking to circumvent local and federal laws (which I doubt you were), but rather, that (I presume) you have already entered into commercial agreements and provided legally serviceable contact information that is true and correct to those other institutions in the course of your endeavor to engage in retail commercial activity.

So, my next question is NOT of a rhetorical nature: Why do you think your professional relationship should be any different with regards to your true and correct business contact information where the registered Trademark/Servicemark holder is concerned, than it is with any of the other business entities with which you contracted with?

I think part of the confusion here, is the potential for ZEC shielded transactions to legitimately anonymize, to a large degree, the p2p relationship and transfer/holding of assets, verses the lawful requirement that you disclose your true and legally serviceable contact data when engaging in commercial activities - not the least of which may also include acquiring a Tax ID number (EIN, or what used to be called a ‘99’ number in the U.S.) from the IRS, registering with the State Board of Equalization / Franchise Tax Board, and business licenses for the locales that you operate in and/or service.

NOTE: I am citing entities and business requirements/practices central to business operations in the United States. If you’re Headquartered/operating in a different jurisdiction then other relevant entities may instead be more appropriate to your business.

I would also recommend that you retain the services of an appropriate attorney the next time you consider engaging in a business venture, if there are any aspects of such that are not completely clear to you, so as not to run afoul of the law.

I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on the matter, and why, from my observations you seemingly feel these legal requirements don’t apply equally to your particular situation.

:sailboat:

.

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Hi @tallship thank you for your perspective.

I feel as though you missing the whole point of my post.

I am not saying that i shouldnt abide by the TM policy. Rather, im questioning the need for such a strict policy. If you would respond that if ZF dont enforce the TM policy they lose the trademark. My response would be, I think they already lost it. There is tons of Zcash branded stuff available online. I doubt if any or any at all of the people selling the Zcash branded t-shirts have recieved a cease and desist letters. Again, why the need for such a restrictive TM policy?

On the commercial point.

Yes i agree, selling stickers is commerce. But i see as a two way street. There are community members who want to spread the word of Zcash and another person that wants to sell. Supply and demand. Tho who is the demand? Its Zcashers. Framing it as ‘for my own commercial interest’ makes it sound like its a dirty word. As a side note even if i would have sold all my stickers i got printed i wouldnt have made a profit.

On the merchant gateway, domain, stickers.

There is very much a difference as to why i have consented to give my details over to these entities and i am reluctant to sign a TM with ZFND

Orginisations such Stripe Paypal or the company that sells a domain are legally required to take all those information by The Government any government to prevent fraud and ml. These orginizations are heavily regulated. And yes, are legally required to collect those details. These companies are built on data. Its the legacy system. The man that we are fighting.

Zcash is the opposite, its a permissionless, private (part) p2p cryptocurrency

With Zcash i thought we’re talking about a open-source decentalized protocol, one specifically focused on privacy-preserving technology to empower people with economic freedom. This type of orginization should have a different kind of thinking and processes to execute those ideals i thought Zcash stands for.

How open source is it, if i cant use the logo ‘for my own commercial interest’?
Is the Bitcoin logo as restricted as the Zcash logo? Now i get that the ECC is a company and Zcash logo has been trademarked. My question is why? I think the logo shouldnt be so restricted by the Trademark Policy; in spirit of the ZFND commitment to open source principles. Also I fear they already lost the TM by failing to police the TM and enforce it.

How private is a protocol that it doesnt have a mechanism or process to privately get an agreement signed with itself? I would argue it shouldnt have such a restictive TM policy in the first place.

How decentralised is it if i cannot use the logo ‘for my own commercial interest’ without an orginisation coming after me?

Also, I feel as tho only the good guy that asks to be able to use the Zcash logo is threatened with enforcement if i dont sign the TM agreement. Again i ask, how many cease and desist letters have been sent to all the hundreds of people that sell zcash branded stuff that do not have a TM agreement?

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I want to remind you that Zcash Foundation and Bootstrap, owner of ECC, are both US-based entities as such they have to abide to US regulations similar to how PayPal have to.

I know that! I am questioning the restrictive TM policy

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I understand your point. However, these two statement are contraditory.

Trademark holders need to fulfill their obligation in policing the trademark usage. Yet, you are against such a trademark policy.

Hey, I’m all for TM policy debates… but I think what you’re doing is now unfair. ZF is enforcing the current trademark policy. Your original post clearly reflects that.

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I dont see it as contraditory at all

Im questioning the need for such a strict policy

As a side note i think they already lost it. There is zcash branded stuff available online and i would be curious how many cease and desist letters have been sent. I might be wrong, but i think too long has gone by without fully enforcing the TM.

Yes, trademark holders need to fulfill their obligation in policing the trademark usage, but they havnt. Just google Zcash t-shirts.

I guess i shouldnt have asked. I wouldnt have been threatend with enforcement

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I am highly skeptical.

Just google Zcash t-shirts. And tell me how many cease and desist letter have been sent to the hundreds of people selling zcash branded t-shirts online

The ZFND only enforces the TM when its asked and someone refuses to sign a TM agreement. Like me, They dont really police it. They cant. Therefore i think the TM policy only hurts the good guy

This is actually quite incorrect… please speak based on facts and not assumptions.

Perhaps i might be wrong. Again i wish to know how many cease and desist letter have been sent to the hundreds of people selling zcash branded t-shirts online

I am sure there has been instances where ZFND or ECC have enforced the TM. But i am wondering how many of the hundreds of ppl selling zcash branded stuff have signed a TM agreement, and if they havent, how many cease and desist letters has been sent to try to enforce the TM policy.

I am sorry @tallship. But I find your post to be rather harsh.

Lets start with the domain name registration and hosting. It is quite possible to register a domain and hosting and pay with ZCASH. Here is a nice medium post by one of the community members on how to do it.

As far as ordering the stickers po boxes and remailing services exist.

As far as merchant services and payment processors go I think you should be able to use ZCASH to accept payments since your target audience is the ZCASH community. I mean I don’t know who else would be ordering ZCASH stickers.

Everything I have mentioned is perfectly legal.

And here lies the main problem. I dont know how much you think the OP can make selling 200 stickers, but I think you can understand how this can provide some unnecessary friction.

We cant rely on the ECC and the ZF to run sticker campaigns like every other crypto community does and we cant expect community members to go out of pocket with expensive lawyer fees and other such nonsense. Because thats just not going to happen.

@JRGB

I can understand your frustration. But the trademark agreement is generally a good thing. Sure its not meant to stop someone selling stickers online but its meant to stop malicious actors from capturing the ZCASH brand. Its meant to stop ZCASH from splintering into a thousand little pieces like BTC did during the whole Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin SV Bitcoin SV ABC and God knows whatever else block size debate.

So please lets sleep on it and Im sure we can find some sort of solution.

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Maybe I am totally missing something, or didnt read this entire forum, but… How can a community crypto like Zcash have a trademarked logo? who owns the TM and how is it affiliated with Zcash on every exchange is its not “owned by zcash” (zcash cant “own” anything because its a community medium of exchange… i think… or maybe i missed something?)

If ECC, or someone, owned a trademark on the Zcash logo would that increase the risk that the SEC would somehow link ZEC to ECC as a “security” of some type?