By Sam Bourgi
Digital payments company Block Inc. is pursuing legal action against Roger Ver’s Bitcoin.com over alleged trademark infringement involving its newly launched Verse token, which concluded a $33.6 million private sale in May 2022.
In a letter addressed to Bitcoin.com CEO Dennis Jarvis and legal counsel Joseph Collement, lawyers representing Block claimed that Bitcoin.com’s use of “Verse” constitutes trademark infringement under German trademark law. The Aug. 10 letter was a follow-up to a July 4 notice in which Block’s legal counsel, Bird & Bird, first laid out its trademark infringement case in Germany. A person familiar with the matter shared the letter with Cointelegraph.
The alleged trademark violation stems from Block’s acquisitions of Verse Technologies Inc. and Decentralized Global Payments S.L. in 2020. “The portfolio of Verse and Decentralized also included a peer-to-peer payment app under the name ‘VERSE’. Since the takeover, our client has been operating this app,” the letter read.
Block’s legal counsel explained that the “VERSE” app is available in Europe, including Germany, and can be accessed on both Apple and Android devices. The letter detailed Block’s rights over a figurative mark that contains the word “Verse” as well as the “VERSE” word mark, with priority for computer and application software for mobile devices.
“The use of the designation “VERSE” constitutes an infringement of our client’s trademarks under German trademark law,” the letter concluded, adding:
“Our client therefore has claims against you to cease and desist from the infringing acts. Furthermore, our client has claims for information about the scope of the infringing acts as well as claims for compensation for all damages that our client has incurred or will incur as a result of the infringement. Finally, our client is also entitled to reimbursement of the costs incurred by us in connection with this letter.”
Block’s legal counsel requested that Bitcoin.com sign a declaration of discontinuance and undertaking by Aug. 17, or face further legal action. It also requested that Bitcoin.com “cease and desist” its Verse token operations in the European Union or face a contractual penalty of $10,400 (10,000 euros) “for each case of contravention.” Block also requested to be reimbursed for legal fees of $3,906.54 (3,744.50 euros).
Bitcoin.com is owned by early Bitcoin
investor Ver, who served as CEO until Aug. 1, 2019. Bitcoin.com operates a digital asset exchange and wallet and provides daily news on the cryptocurrency market. Many in the crypto community know Ver for his strong support of Bitcoin Cash
, which emerged in 2017 as a hard fork from Bitcoin’s original blockchain due to philosophical differences around scalability and transaction speed. Its supporters believe Bitcoin Cash aligns more with the vision set out for Bitcoin in Satoshi Nakamoto’s 2008 white paper.
Founded in 2009 by Jack Dorsey, Block rebranded from Square in December 2021 as its focus shifted to blockchain technology and Bitcoin. Dorsey has increasingly focused on Bitcoin hardware and payment solutions since stepping down as Twitter CEO in November 2021.
Ver and Dorsey have been involved in personal disputes over the years, including in 2019 when Ver alleged that Dorsey was only supporting the Lightning Network because the Twitter founder was romantically involved with Lightning Labs CEO Elizabeth Stark.”
The Verse token at the heart of the legal dispute is publicly advertised on Bitcoin.com’s Twitter page. Verse is described by its creators as a “cross-chain token” focused on expanding into low-fee Ethereum Virtual Machine chains. It has a fixed supply of 210 billion tokens distributed over seven years. Its private sale, which concluded this past May, raised $33.6 million.