US LAWMAKERS QUESTION META’S CRYPTO AND BLOCKCHAIN PLANS 

The United States House Financial Services Committee is seeking answers from Meta regarding its intentions related to five cryptocurrency and blockchain trademark applications that are still active from 2022.

Maxine Waters, ranking member of the committee, sent a letter on January 22 to Meta’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Javier Olivan, expressing concerns about the trademark applications filed on March 18, 2022. Waters believes that these applications suggest Meta’s ongoing interest in the digital assets ecosystem, despite Meta’s previous statement on October 12, 2023, that it had no ongoing digital assets projects.

Meta had previously abandoned plans for its payments cryptocurrency stablecoin Diem (formerly Libra) in 2019 under pressure from lawmakers and later sold it for $200 million in January 2022 to the now-defunct Silvergate Bank. Additionally, Meta’s plans to release a digital wallet, Novi (formerly Calibra), by 2020 never materialized.

The trademark filings cover various services related to cryptocurrency and “blockchain assets,” including trading, exchange, payments, transfers, wallets, and associated hardware and software infrastructure.

Meta has received a Notice of Allowance (NOA) for each filing, indicating that the applications meet registration requirements. Within six months, Meta must either file a statement confirming its intent to use the trademark or request a six-month extension to file the statement. The first NOA was sent on August 15, 2023, and Meta has until February 15, 2024, at the earliest to respond. The latest NOA was sent on January 16, 2024, with a response deadline of July 16, 2024.

Waters’ letter includes questions about how Meta plans to respond to the NOAs, whether it intends to pursue projects related to Web3, crypto, or digital wallets, and if it has any plans to launch a crypto payments platform. She also inquired about Meta’s research into stablecoins, partnerships with stablecoin projects, its interest in adopting distributed ledger technology (DLT), and how its technology might enable crypto-related functions in its metaverse.

Meta has not yet provided a response to these inquiries.

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