Digital payments company Block Inc. is pursuing legal action against Roger Ver’s Bitcoin.com over alleged trademark infringement involving the newly launched Verse token, which closed a $33.6 million private sale in May 2022.
In a letter addressed to Bitcoin.com CEO Dennis Jarvis and the company’s legal counsel Joseph Collement, lawyers representing Block argued that Bitcoin.com’s use of “Verse” constituted trademark infringement under German trademark law. The letter, dated August 10, 2022, was a follow-up to a July 4, 2022 notice in which Block’s legal counsel, Bird & Bird, first outlined its trademark infringement case in Germany. A person familiar with the matter shared the letter with Cointelegraph.
The alleged trademark infringement stems from Block’s acquisition of Verse Technologies Inc. and Decentralized Global Payments SL 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 operated this app,” the letter said.
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 described Block’s rights over a figurative mark containing 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 a claim against you to stop and refrain from the offending actions. Furthermore, our client has a claim for information about the extent of the infringing acts as well as a claim 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 we incur in connection with this letter.”
Block’s legal advisors asked Bitcoin.com to sign a cease and desist statement by August 17, 2022, or face further legal action. It also requested that Bitcoin.com “cease and desist” its Verse token operations in the EU or face a contractual fine of $10,400 (€10,000) “for each instance of infringement.” Block also asked to be reimbursed for legal fees of $3,906.54 (€3,744.50).
Bitcoin.com is owned by early Bitcoin (BTC) investor Roger Ver, who served as CEO until August 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 (BCH), which emerged in 2017 after leaving Bitcoin’s original blockchain due to philosophical differences over scalability and transaction speed. However, supporters believe that BCH is more in line with the vision set out for Bitcoin in Satoshi Nakamoto’s 2008 White Paper.
Founded in 2009 by Jack Dorsey, Block changed from Square in December 2021 when 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.
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Ver and Dorsey have been involved in personal disputes over the years, including in 2019 when Ver accused Dorsey of supporting the Lightning Network due to his alleged romantic involvement with Lightning Labs CEO Elizabeth Stark. Some have speculated that these personal issues are why Twitter never verified Bitcoin.com’s handle when Dorsey was CEO.
— Roger Ver (@rogerkver) 10 August 2019
The Vers token at the heart of the legal dispute has been publicly announced on Bitcoin.com’s Twitter page. Verse is described by its creators as a “cross-chain token” focused on expanding low-cost Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) chains. It has a fixed supply of 210 billion tokens spread over seven years. The private sale, which closed in May, raised $33.6 million.