The U.S. House Financial Services Committee asks Meta to clarify its crypto and blockchain plans, citing five active trademark applications from 2022.
Congresswoman Maxine Waters voiced concerns to Meta’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Javier Olivan, highlighting applications filed on March 18, 2022.
One week after the Patent and Trademark Office approved one of Meta’s digital currency software proposals, Waters sent a letter on Monday to Zuckerberg and Olivan, asking about the company’s intentions.
“With its initial filings on March 18, 2022, Meta’s application submissions as of January 22 appear to represent a continued intention to expand the company’s involvement in the digital assets ecosystem,” the letter reads.
Waters suggested that these crypto trademarks conflict with discussions between the Democratic Financial Services committee and Meta’s staff. As per her letter, Meta representatives had claimed the company wasn’t working on any digital assets or blockchain developments.
Waters noted that Meta’s trademark applications reveal their involvement in digital assets, contradicting Meta’s statement to the Democratic Financial Services committee staff on October 12, 2023, claiming no ongoing digital assets work.
“Additionally, Meta staff asserted that Meta is not working with any partners on integrating stablecoins or cryptocurrency into any payments or Metaverse products, and is not pursuing research and development in the space,” the letter continues.
Waters has previously clashed with Meta executives. In June 2019, the company revealed plans to develop a stablecoin and a wallet service, initially named Libra and Calibra.
“With the announcement that it plans to create a cryptocurrency, Facebook is continuing its unchecked expansion and extending its reach into the lives of its users,” Waters said in a 2019 statement. “The cryptocurrency market currently lacks a clear regulatory framework to provide strong protections for investors, consumers, and the economy.”
Despite challenges, Meta proceeded with its cryptocurrency project, eventually rebranding Libra as Diem and establishing the Diem Association in Switzerland to oversee the coin.
Waters continued to closely follow the project, organizing hearings and meeting with Switzerland government officials. A November 2021 report from the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency expressed concerns about the concentration of power in Diem producing both a stablecoin and its associated wallet.
The Diem Association spent over two years attempting to navigate regulatory challenges in the U.S. and globally, however, the organization shut down.
Following the announcement of ceasing operations, Diem CEO Stuart Levey revealed that the company had received conflicting messages from regulators. Diem maintained, in a statement, that regulators considered the stablecoin project innovative and well-designed.
In January 2022, Meta sold Diem to the now-closed Silvergate Bank for $200 million. All assets and intellectual property were subsequently acquired by this California-based bank.
Another initiative, the launch of the digital wallet Novi (formerly Calibra) in 2020, also faced setbacks, and there is no indication of a new release date.
Meta’s trademark applications cover different services related to cryptocurrency and “blockchain assets,” including trading, exchange, payments, transfers, wallets and the associated hardware and software infrastructure.
In trademark application with serial number 97320155, Meta offers online social networking and dating services, including a specialized branch for investors to trade and exchange various digital assets like currency, cryptocurrency and tokens.
Additionally, Meta has applied for several trademarks, including Serial Number 97320153, which focuses on computer hardware and software development related to blockchain, virtual currency, digital currency, cryptocurrency and digital assets.
Other trademark applications, like Serial Numbers 97320146, 97320144 and 97320136, cover digital currency services, advertising via electronic media and downloadable software for managing digital currency transactions.
Meta got a Notice of Allowance (NOA) for each filing, showing the applications meet registration criteria. Within six months, Meta needs to either declare its intent to use the trademark or ask for a six-month extension to submit the statement.
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