Earlier today I received an email from Chia Networks’ Head of IP that demanded I either accept a trademark usage license or change the name of our blog. When I posted about this topic this morning on Reddit it generated a lot of good discussion. A lot of commenters either recommended that I just take their license and move on, or change the name because I’m obviously wrong for using the word “Chia” in my domain name / blog title. I wont be doing either of those things.
First, to the question of a license. That seems like a reasonable idea on its face, and the offer of a royalty free license seems generous. But it is not. As of right now I am completely independent, and can write about any topic without fear of reprisal from Chia Networks or their lawyers. I live in Canada and have the freedom to write about any topic that isn’t malicious to the company or its officers and employees, which I have no plans to do. I’m quite a fan of Chia, and I like the alternative to proof of work or stake as a consensus mechanism. I have been a huge supporter of the currency on other public forums, defending the (true) mathematical claims about decentralization and how Chia solves the problems for small miners/farmers seen by other currencies. But a license to do all that would put too much control into Chia Networks’ hands. If I were to accept a license I would become both bound by those terms, and by the admission that I need one. This would allow Chia Networks Inc to dictate the terms of any relationship we have, when my preference is to have no relationship at all. If I were to post something true but extremely critical of Chia Networks they would hold the right to revoke my license, leaving me having agreed to needing one and not having one.
I think the entire concept that a blog would need a license from the company that is their subject is just ridiculous. Its also been litigated, and it is an incorrect legal position. Chia Networks does not have the power to dictate who writes about them on the internet nor how they are written about. They do have some claim over software, financial or cryptocurrency services using their name and logo. The good news there is that I have no plans to ever do so, and would not leverage a blog called “The chia plot” to do so if i was going to.
As for changing the name, I’m not going to do that because I don’t want to. “The Chia Plot” still makes me chuckle a little, and that’s all we have in this world.
As for monetization, the blog is 6 days old at this point and I hadn’t even considered it, but I am going to make it clear here that for the time being I will not be running ads or accepting donations for the site. As of now this blog has generated no revenue whatsoever and going forward I will run this entirely out of my own pocket so that my intentions towards the blog are clear. There has been some accusation that I somehow engineered this whole thing to advertise the blog, which I did not and could not have. But I don’t even have an incentive to, and I want to make that crystal clear.
Should any of this change in the future, I will be open and transparent about that. But I don’t like being bullied so for the time being this is how I’m going do things.
Because my goal is honestly to not cause confusion or make anyone think I have any affiliation with Chia Networks Inc, I have made some minor changes to the site and I have reached out to Chia Networks to determine if the clarifications I have made are satisfactory to them and allow us to move on with the admission that blogs about them do not require a license.