Block, formerly Square, says public won't confuse name with H&R Block

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REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

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  • H&R Block sued after Square debuted new name last month
  • Block, formerly Square, wants lawsuit dismissed
  • Block says it doesn't offer competing products under new name

(Reuters) - Block Inc, the financial-services company formerly known as Square, has asked a Missouri federal court to throw out a trademark infringement lawsuit brought by tax-preparation giant H&R Block, arguing its new name won't confuse potential customers.

Block said in a Friday court filing that it doesn't offer any customer-facing products under the Block name, and that a reasonable consumer couldn't confuse its competing tax-preparation product, Cash App Taxes, with H&R Block's services.

San Francisco-based Block's chief executive, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, announced the name change last month.

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H&R Block sued soon after in its hometown of Kansas City, accusing Block of stealing its name to "co-opt the reputation and goodwill that H&R Block has earned through decades of hard work."

The complaint said consumers were likely to be confused by Block's similar name, as well as its Cash App logo, a rounded green square that H&R Block argued was confusingly similar to its own green-square logo.

"While H&R Block may not like that it has to compete with a truly free income tax preparation service offered by an established business like Cash App, its appropriate recourse is to take on Cash App in the marketplace, not to fabricate trademark claims that are implausible on their face," Block responded in its motion to dismiss the case.

Block said its name is merely a "house of brands" that includes Square, Cash App, and music-streaming service Tidal, and it doesn't use the name on a competing product.

It said its logo won't cause confusion with H&R Block's because of their visual differences, and because Block's logo is always used in conjunction with the Cash App name.

Block declined to comment on the motion.

H&R Block's attorney David Bernstein of Debevoise & Plimpton said on Monday the company has a "strong conviction" in its request for a preliminary injunction against Block, which is scheduled for a Jan. 28 hearing.

U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey is presiding over the case.

The case is H&R Block Inc v. Block Inc, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri, No. 4:21-cv-00913.

For H&R Block: David Bernstein of Debevoise & Plimpton, Anthony Durone of Berkowitz Oliver

For Block: Margret Caruso and Robert Schwartz of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan; David Jermann of Armstrong Teasdale

(EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been updated to add comments from H&R Block's attorney.)

Read more:

Dorsey-led Square rebrands to Block in nod to blockchain

H&R Block sues Block, formerly Square, over new name

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Blake Brittain reports on intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. Reach him at blake.brittain@thomsonreuters.com