The U.S. House Financial Services Committee is intensifying its scrutiny over Meta’s potential involvement in the cryptocurrency and blockchain sectors. This move comes in light of five trademark applications related to cryptocurrency and blockchain filed by Meta in 2022, which remain active.
In a letter dated Jan. 22, addressed to Meta’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Javier Olivan, committee ranking member Maxine Waters highlighted the March 18, 2022, trademark filings. Waters pointed out that these applications suggest Meta might be planning to delve deeper into the digital assets ecosystem, contrary to its previous communications. On Oct. 12, 2023, Meta reportedly informed the Democratic Financial Services Committee staff that it had no ongoing digital asset projects.
This inquiry follows Meta’s decision to abandon its crypto stablecoin project, Diem (initially known as Libra), in mid-2019 due to legislative pressures. Diem was eventually sold to the now-defunct Silvergate Bank in January 2022 for $200 million. Additionally, Meta’s plans to release a digital wallet, Novi (previously Calibra), scheduled for 2020, have not materialized, with no new release date in sight.
The trademark filings in question cover a range of services in the crypto and blockchain sphere, including trading, exchange, payments, transfers, wallets, and related hardware and software infrastructure.
Each application has received a Notice of Allowance (NOA) from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, indicating that they meet the requirements for registration. Meta now faces deadlines to either affirm its intent to use the trademarks or request extensions. The earliest response deadline is Feb. 15, 2023, following the first NOA issued on Aug. 15, 2023.
In her letter, Waters seeks clarification from Meta on several points. These include how the company plans to respond to the NOAs, whether it intends to engage in any Web3, cryptocurrency, or digital wallet projects, the potential launch of a crypto payments platform, and any ongoing research into stablecoins or collaborations with stablecoin initiatives. She also inquired about Meta’s interest in adopting distributed ledger technology (DLT) and the possibility of incorporating crypto-related functionalities in its metaverse projects.