Federal Reserve Threatens to Sue Bitcoin Magazine

The U.S. Federal Reserve is taking legal action against Bitcoin Magazine in an attempt to silence criticism of its recently launched FedNow interbank clearing and settlement service.

In a letter sent to the publication by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, the central bank of the United States is claiming that Bitcoin Magazine merchandise that parodies its services are not protected speech, but rather an unauthorized infringement of its image and trademarks.

The dispute centers around the use of the FedNow Service image and trademark in a line of merchandise sold by Bitcoin Magazine that seeks to criticize the surveillance capabilities of the FedNow system, and how it threatens American civil liberties.

The Federal Reserve alleges that Bitcoin Magazine used the trademark without permission to mislead readers into believing a connection exists between the publication and the central bank.

In response to the allegations, Bitcoin Magazine has penned an open letter to the Federal Reserve Financial Services’s Deputy General Counsel, Thaddeus Murphy: 

Dear Thaddeus Murphy,

On behalf of the entire team at Bitcoin Magazine, I wanted to take the time to thank you for your thoughtful inquiry after having browsed our online store. Doing your Christmas shopping early, you love to see it! Let us know if we can send a box of merchandise to any of the 12 Federal Reserve Banks. You might enjoy our content from the latest print Bitcoin Magazine, which discusses the damages your policies have done to our economy – and our country.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out with a list of coveted items, and we will be sure to send them. We want to do our part to “stimulate” the economy!

On to business. We would like to inform you that while we received your cease-and-desist request, we refuse to comply. We will not be intimidated by your efforts to silence criticism.

As you may know, our publication and our readership are deeply troubled by the new FedNow interbanking communication system. We believe not only that it is possibly unconstitutional, but that it threatens the very freedoms that all liberty-loving American citizens should hold dear.

With that in mind, we believe it is well within our First Amendment rights to exercise speech on the issue, and to that end, we will be defending our right to sell merchandise that makes buyers aware, through fair use imagery, our position that this system is a threat to civil liberties.

I would like to make a few direct comments on quotes present in your letter, in order to best articulate what I am sure is to be considered a disappointing response:

“The Federal Reserve has extensively used and promoted the FEDNOW mark and has built up substantial goodwill in this invaluable asset. Financial institutions and consumers associate the FEDNOW mark with the Federal Reserve and its services.”

An interesting point. For starters, what goodwill has the Federal Reserve built up? Have you seen the state of the working class today? Perhaps you have already forgotten how Fed policy directly led to mismanaged bond portfolios in regional banks across the country, such as Silicon Valley Bank, Signature, Silvergate or First Republic? Perhaps you have already forgotten about the historic inflation rates seen throughout the U.S. since government-imposed lockdowns all but forced the Treasury’s hand to stimulate the economy to the tune of trillions of dollars?

There is no goodwill, Mr. Murphy. And certainly not substantial goodwill either.

“The Federal Reserve recently learned that Bitcoin Magazine is selling t-shirts, hats, and other wearables bearing the FEDNOW name, as shown in the screenshot below. Bitcoin Magazine’s use of the FEDNOW mark in this manner is likely to cause confusion, mistakes or deception. Consumers are likely to believe that the gear is associated with, affiliated with, or endorsed by the Federal Reserve, when no such association or relationship exists.”

This is false. Bitcoin Magazine is exercising its First Amendment rights to social commentary and parody. I’m sure you’ll notice the all-seeing eye that symbolizes the state of total financial surveillance that your agency is seeking to impose on the American financial system.

We do not believe that anyone that is familiar with our editorial guidelines and general stance on the world would ever associate Bitcoin Magazine with the Federal Reserve. We agree with your assertion that “no such association or relationship exists.”

We have no interest in causing confusion, mistakes, or deception. That sounds more like a job for those responsible for telling the market they wouldn’t raise rates after a massive monetary expansion, and then went on to raise them faster than at any time in U.S. financial history.

We look forward to defending our First Amendment rights, and the opportunity to make clear to all Americans the difference between the open, free, and decentralized financial system that is Bitcoin, and the centralized FedNow system that threatens our nation’s founding values.


Mark Goodwin

Editor In Chief
Bitcoin Magazine

PDF versions of the Federal Reserve’s cease and desist Letter and our legal response: