Athene, a US-based financial services company founded in 1896, has sued the Athene Network Ponzi scheme for trademark infringement, unfair competition and cybersquatting.

In its May 14th filed Arizona Complaint, Athene describes itself as “an Iowa corporation” that “manages several billions of dollars’ worth of invested assets”.

Athene claims it “distinguishes itself from other financial services companies with its distinctive trademarks and branding.”

To protect its investment in the ATHENE name and the integrity of that brand in the minds of consumers, Athene has built a robust portfolio of trademark registrations, domain name registrations, and social media usernames for the ATHENE Marks, covering the U.S. and several foreign jurisdictions.

Athene alleges is became aware of Athene Network in late January 2024, primarily through “@ mentions” on social media.

Athene’s customer service team also received an influx of emails from Defendant’s users, who had apparently been locked out of their “Athene accounts” (meaning, the accounts they had created with Defendant’s ATHENE-branded mobile application) and
who were under the mistaken belief that the app originated with Athene.

In BehindMLM’s February 7th, 2024 Athene Network review, we noted the Ponzi scheme threatened users who withdrew too much with account termination.

Upon investigating the matter, Athene discovered that Defendant was offering a mobile application and service involving the mining, exchange, and transmission of cryptocurrency, along with a related ATH-branded cryptocurrency coin.

Citing obfuscation of who is running Athene Network and promotion on social media, Athene asserts

These activities show concerted efforts by Defendant to use Athene’s trademarks to confuse, mislead, and deceive consumers into believing that Defendant’s ATHENE-branded website, social media accounts, and mobile applications are controlled by, associated with, authorized by, or connected to Athene.

Defendant’s use of the ATHENE trademark in the Athene.Network domain name and the various social media usernames it registered were an attempt to profit from the name and goodwill associated with Athene, allowing Defendant to give the impression to consumers that it was backed by and affiliated with a multi-billion dollar, publicly held U.S. corporation.

Athene states it sent Athene Network a cease and desist in February 2024.

When Defendant did not respond to the cease-and-desist letter, Athene proceeded to file takedown requests with the Apple App Store, the Google Play Store, and several prominent social networks, asking the platforms to remove accounts set up by Defendant, which featured the ATHENE registered trademark.

Many of those accounts have since been taken down as the platforms evaluated Athene’s claims and agreed that consumers were likely to be confused by Defendant’s conflicting use of the ATHENE trademark without authorization.

BehindMLM notes that at time of publication, Athene Network is still available on both the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.

Nonetheless, Athene claims Athene Network responded to its Apple App Store take-down request on February 21st.

The response was signed by “Team Dev”.

In the weeks that followed, Athene exchanged numerous emails with Team Dev, in which it repeatedly requested basic information about the company for purposes of negotiating an amicable resolution, including confirmation of Defendant’s company name, company address, and country of incorporation, as well as the name and title of the officer who would sign an agreement on Defendant’s behalf.

Defendant took active steps to conceal its true identity and the identity of its agents, and in email correspondence to Athene, indicated that it intended to continue willfully infringing the ATHENE Marks.

Even after receiving Athene’s cease-and-desist letter and exchanging numerous messages with Athene’s counsel in connection with the takedown efforts, Defendant continued to use the Athene trademark on and in connection with the promotion of its products and services, and it took no steps to prevent consumer confusion from occurring, despite having actual knowledge of Athene’s rights in the ATHENE trademark and being aware that actual confusion had occurred.

In seeking injunctive relief, Athene argues that unless granted consumers will be misled, its reputation will be damaged and it is “deprived … of the ability to control the use of its trademarks”.

Relief Athene seeks include:

  • damages equal to three times Athene Network’s profits;
  • disgorgement and restitution equal to “all profits” Athene Network “obtained through the use of Athene’s trademarks”;
  • an injunction prohibiting Athene Network from further using the trademark “Athene”;
  • $2.5 million in compensatory damages for trademark infringement and unfair competition;
  • $2.5 million in compensatory damages for cybersquatting (in relation to Athene Network’s website domains);
  • prejudgment and postjudgment interest; and
  • legal costs

As at time of publication Athene Network has not responded to Athene’s filed lawsuit.

As of April 2024, SimilarWeb tracked 11.3 million monthly visits to Athene Network’s website. Whether this traffic is manipulated or not is unclear.

Cited top sources of traffic to Athene Network’s website are Vietnam (38%), Pakistan (11%), Russia (8%), Bangladesh (5%) and Nigeria (5%).

Stay tuned for updates as BehindMLM continues to track the case.