H&R Block wins order prohibiting Block from using its name for tax application

A sign is pictured outside the H&R Block store in Westminster, Colorado March 4, 2015. H&R Block Inc. was due to release its earnings report on March 4, 2015. REUTERS/Rick Wilking (UNITED STATES – Tags: BUSINESS )

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  • H&R Block said Square’s name change would be confusing
  • Court grants request to stop use of ‘Block’ with tax services

(Reuters) – Siding with tax preparation giant H&R Block Inc, a Missouri federal judge on Thursday temporarily barred Block Inc, formerly known as Square, from using the name “Block” in the as part of its tax preparation application.

Block’s use of the name and a green square logo for its Taxes Cash App is likely to confuse customers with H&R Block and its similar logo, Kansas City U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey said.

H&R Block had narrowed its request for a preliminary injunction in the case to cover only Block’s tax services, but its lawsuit still seeks to force Block to completely change its name.

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A spokesperson for H&R Block called the decision “an important victory in efforts to prevent a competitor from unfairly exploiting the reputation and trust that H&R Block has earned over the past 65 years.”

Block Inc and its attorneys did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Block’s chief executive, San Francisco-based Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, announced the company would change its name from Square in December.

H&R Block sued soon after in his hometown of Kansas City, accusing Block of stealing his name to “co-opt” his reputation. He said the two companies have been direct competitors in tax preparation services since Block bought Credit Karma Tax, now called Cash App Taxes, in 2020.

Block responded that a reasonable consumer would not confuse Cash App Taxes with H&R Block’s services, and that it only uses “Block” to refer to its “house of brands” which includes Square, Cash App and the service of music streaming Tidal.

Laughrey on Thursday cited the brand strength of the H&R Block name and logo, the similarity of the companies’ brands and the overlap of their services as major factors in concluding that the Block name was likely to cause confusion.

“This confusion is likely to be amplified given that Block Inc is an innovative technology company with a founder and CEO that is getting a lot of attention and has millions of social media followers,” Laughrey said.

Laughrey rejected Block’s argument that the injunction request would cause undue hardship to the company, noting that it was “significantly scaled down” from H&R Block’s original request to change Block’s name completely. .

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

For H&R Block: David Bernstein of Debevoise & Plimpton

For Block: Margret Caruso and Rachel Kassabian of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan

Read more:

Square, led by Dorsey, becomes Block in a nod to blockchain

H&R Block sues Block, formerly Square, for a new name

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

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Blake Brittain

Thomson Reuters

Blake Brittain reports on intellectual property law, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. Contact him at [email protected]

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