The United States Federal Reserve has sent a cease-and-desist letter to crypto media publication Bitcoin Magazine, accusing it of trademark violations, according to a Nov. 3 post from the publication. Bitcoin Magazine claims it is being targeted because of its use of the word “FedNow” on “t-shirts, hats, and other wearables.” FedNow is the trademarked name of the Federal Reserve’s instant payment system.
The U.S. Federal Reserve is threatening to sue Bitcoin Magazine, alleging apparel that parodies its FedNow system is not protected speech, but copyright infringement.@markgoodw_in with Bitcoin Magazine’s response:https://t.co/PYmeZHBYWO
— Bitcoin Magazine (@BitcoinMagazine) November 3, 2023
Bitcoin Magazine carries some merchandise in its store that features the word “FedNow” printed on it, but with the “O” in the word having been replaced with an image of an eye.
According to the post, the Fed claimed these items “mislead readers into believing a connection exists between the publication and the central bank.”
In response, Bitcoin Magazine’s legal team sent a letter to the Federal Reserve denying the allegation. The merchandise is “undeniably parodic in nature,” the letter stated, as it was created “for the purpose of parody and political criticism directed at the Federal Reserve.”
As evidence for this, the letter pointed to the image of an eye found in the designs, which it referred to as a “surveillance eye.” In a separate open letter referenced in the post, Bitcoin Magazine referred to the eye as an “all-seeing eye that symbolizes the state of total financial surveillance that [the Federal Reserve] is seeking to impose on the American financial system.”
The term “all-seeing eye” or “Eye of Providence” refers to a symbol found in Jacopo Pontormo’s 1525 painting, Supper at Emmaus, and later featured on the back side of a U.S. 1-dollar bill.
In its post, Bitcoin Magazine stated that it would not stop printing or selling its “FedNow” line of merchandise, as it believes the items constitute protected free speech under the First Amendment.
FedNow is an interbank payment system launched by the Federal Reserve in July. It allows banks and money transmitter services to make payments instantly, without needing to rely on the automated clearing house (ACH) system used in the past. Bitcoin Magazine has heavily criticized FedNow in its articles and videos, claiming that it is a “scam” that allows the government to “keep controlling you, your business, and everyone else’s.”
FedNow has also been criticized by presidential candidates Ron Desantis and Robert Kennedy, Jr. They claim it’s paving the way for a future central bank digital currency (CBDC), which they say will violate the privacy of Americans. The Federal Reserve has denied that its service has anything to do with a CBDC.