Judge rules in favor of H&R Block in federal trademark lawsuit

Tax giant H&R Block is headquartered in downtown Kansas City.

Tax giant H&R Block is headquartered in downtown Kansas City.

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A federal judge has ruled in favor of H&R Block by ordering a competitor to stop using certain names and images.

Late last year, the Kansas City-based tax giant sued Twitter founder Jack Dorsey’s company, Square Inc., which changed its name to Block Inc. H&R Block executives said that this move co-opted their brand name, confused consumers and violated trademark protections.

This week, U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey granted H&R Block a request for a preliminary injunction against the California tech company. His order prohibits Dorsey’s company from using “Block, Inc.”, “Block” or other close variants like “Blocks” in its tax preparation app.

The judge ruled that the Block Inc. name and green images that resemble the H&R Block logo could confuse consumers.

“H&R Block has used the ‘Block’ brand families and green squares for decades,” Laughrey wrote, “and during that time has carefully maintained a reputation for high quality service and reliability when it comes to consumers’ most sensitive financial information. .”

Changing the name of its parent company, Block Inc. retained the Square name for its company that provides point-of-sale systems to retailers across the country. The company also includes the Cash App brand and music streaming service TIDAL.

The injunction prohibits the California-based company from communicating publicly through advertisements, press releases or social media that it is associated with Cash App Taxes or other brands associated with taxes or tax services. The order required H&R Block to post $250,000 bond and will remain in effect until the litigation is resolved.

Block Inc. argued that “no reasonable consumer could confuse” “H&R Block” with its “Cash App” or “Cash App Taxes” trademarks. H&R Block says the Cash app’s rounded green square logo could confuse consumers due to its similarity to the tax giant’s own green square logo.

The California company asked the court on Friday for a temporary stay of the injunction. Block Inc. asked the judge to stay the imposition of the injunction because both parties are expected to begin court-mandated mediation on May 10.

“We are delighted that the Court has recognized the strength of our Block brand and our Block family of trademark rights,” H&R Block said in a statement. “Today’s decision is a significant 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. officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

This story was originally published April 29, 2022 2:23 p.m.

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Kevin Hardy covers the Kansas City Star business. He previously covered business and politics at the Des Moines Register. He also worked for newspapers in Kansas and Tennessee. He graduated from the University of Kansas

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