Using cryptography, ecash was introduced by David Chaum as an anonymous electronic cash system. He used blind signatures to achieve unlinkability between withdrawal and spend transactions. Depending on the properties of the payment transactions, one distinguishes between on-line and off-line electronic cash. The first off-line e-cash system was proposed by Chaum and Naor. Like the first on-line method, it is based on RSA blind signatures.
In the United States, only one bank implemented ecash, the Mark Twain bank and the system was dissolved in 1997 after the bank was purchased by Mercantile Bank, a large issuer of credit cards. Similar to credit cards, the system was free to purchasers, while merchants paid a transaction fee.
In Australia ecash was implemented by St.George Bank, but the transactions were not free to purchasers. In June 1998, ecash became available through Credit Suisse in Switzerland. It was also available from Deutsche Bank in Germany, Bank Austria, Finland's Merita Bank/EUnet, Sweden's Posten, and Den norske Bank of Norway.
Plaintiff sued alleging trademark infringement and unfair-competition claims. Defendant counterclaimed that plaintiff's trademark registration was fraudulently obtained because plaintiff failed to disclose defendant's registration of the "ecash.com" domain name to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
The court rejected defendant's argument in denying plaintiff's motion to dismiss defendant's counterclaim. According to the court, a trademark applicant must disclose a third party's rights only if they are "clearly established." In this case, because the mere registration of a domain name does not confer any trademark rights, let alone "clearly established" rights, plaintiff had no duty to disclose defendant's registration of the “ecash.com” domain name to the PTO. Even if defendant were allowed to amend its counterclaim to add allegations of its use of the "ecash.com" domain name or eCASH trademark, defendant still could not show the type of "clearly established" rights plaintiff would have to disclose to the PTO.
Interestingly, plaintiff apparently did not argue that it had no duty to disclose defendant's domain name to the PTO because plaintiff's intent-to-use trademark application was filed months before defendant even registered its domain name.
- Chaum, D., Fiat, A., and Naor, M. 1990. Untraceable electronic cash. In Proceedings on Advances in Cryptology (Santa Barbara, California, United States). S. Goldwasser, Ed. Springer-Verlag New York, New York, NY, 319-327.
- DigiCash loses U.S. toehold
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