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'JRR Token' is a punny name for a cryptocurrency, but Tolkien's estate is not humored

KELSEY SNELL, HOST:

The cryptocurrency world is full of inside jokes, bad puns and other wordplay. It's also full of trademark disputes. In the latest one, the estate of fantasy writer J. R. R. Tolkien sued a cryptocurrency developer for naming his blockchain invention JRR Token - tokens being a common cryptocurrency term.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "THE LORD OF THE RING: RETURN OF THE KING")

ANDY SERKIS: (As Gollum) My precious.

SNELL: The developer Matthew Jensen said in legal papers that his currency amounted to a parody of the literary legend's name. What's more, he said, those first three initials did not refer to John Ronald Reuel, as with the Oxford don, but instead journey through risk to reward. The World Intellectual Property Organization was unmoved by Jensen's statement. Siding with Tolkien's estate, it stated that the parody attempt was, quote, "clever but not humorous," basically destroying this argument as if it were a ring falling straight into the fires of Mount Doom.

(SOUNDBITE OF VOLCANO ERUPTING) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.