Retirement Services Company Sues Crypto Firm for Allegedly Infringing on ‘Athene’ Trademark

News | May 29, 2024 By:

On Tuesday, May 14, 2024, Athene Annuity and Life Company and Athene IP Holding Company Ltd. filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Athene Group Ltd. and unknown defendants in the District Court of Arizona.

Athene Annuity and Life Company is an Iowa-based financial services company known for annuities and investment products. Athene IP Holding owns the intellectual property and trademarks. According to the complaint, Athene has used the ATHENE trademark since 2011 in connection with financial services and owns several federal trademark registrations for the mark covering goods and services such as annuity underwriting and life insurance issuance.

The defendants include Athene Group Ltd., a United Kingdom private company, and unknown individuals or entities identified as Does 1-10. Athene Group has been using the ATHENE name and marks to offer a cryptocurrency trading mobile app and website at Athene.Network without authorization.

The complaint alleges trademark infringement, unfair competition, and cybersquatting. It says Athene Group’s unauthorized use of the ATHENE marks is likely to cause confusion among consumers and damage the goodwill and reputation associated with the plaintiffs’ long-established brand. Athene also claims it experienced actual consumer confusion, with people contacting them about issues with the defendant’s app under the mistaken belief the companies were affiliated.

In late January 2024, Athene discovered Athene Group’s financial services mobile app and website promoting cryptocurrency mining, exchange, and coin offerings using the ATHENE name and marks. The website contained no information about the individuals or companies behind it. Athene sent a cease-and-desist letter in February but received no response.

Athene then filed takedown requests with app stores and social media platforms to remove infringing accounts, which were largely successful. Further communications with an individual using “Team Dev” revealed an intent to continue infringement despite knowledge of Athene’s trademark rights and actual confusion.

The complaint seeks a permanent injunction barring further infringement along with damages, profits, costs, and attorneys’ fees. As cryptocurrency and blockchain technologies gain popularity, proper identification and oversight of companies in this emerging space is important to avoid consumer deception. Cases like this help enforce trademark laws and protect established brands from bad actors seeking to piggyback off their reputations.

If the facts alleged in the complaint are found to be true, the court could determine Athene Group deliberately used the ATHENE marks in their name, domain, and promotions to suggest a false connection to Athene and attract users interested in the well-known financial company.

Please contact BlockTribune for access to a copy of this filing.