Ethereum Foundation researcher Vlad Zamfir filed an injunction against CasperLabs on March 17 at the US district court for the Southern District of California. The complaint cites the violation of the US Trademark Act when the blockchain startup filed for a federal registration of its protocol without Zamfir’s knowledge.
According to the court document, Zamfir accuses CasperLabs of copyright infringement as Casper, the name of their proof-of-stake (PoS) protocol, closely resembles the developer’s own PoS research 6 years ago.
Zamfir claims in his injunction that this is an improper use of the Casper mark and it can damage his image. Additionally, he says this marketing strategy by CasperLabs might mislead potential investors into an imminent fundraising set to take place in three days, thinking that Casper by Zamfir is the same as the one that CasperLabs are promoting.
Moreover, Zamfir stated in his complaint that he and Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin developed their own PoS protocol named Casper in 2015. The first draft was released in 2017 while the Casper protocol 1.0 specification went live in 2018. It was picked up by CasperLabs in 2019 after Zamfir was hired as lead consensus protocol architect.
Afterwards, CasperLabs began to develop their new blockchain based on Zamfir’s PoS and named it Highway Protocol. Zamfir argued that the licensing agreement drawn up in the same year provided limited use of the Casper name and his research on the protocol.
The Ethereum researcher argues in his injunction that he made it clear how he does not consent to CasperLabs’ use of the name Casper in their PoS promotion. Not to mention, the blockchain startup changed the name from Casper Highway Protocol to Casper three days before it sought to launch a coin sale on March 23.
With that, Zamfir filed his case while specifically pointing out to Section 43(a) of the Lanham Act that states, ‘It provides for civil liability for any person who, IN connection with any goods or service uses in commerce any word, term, name, symbol or any combination thereof, or any false designation origin, false or misleading description of fact or false or misleading misrepresentation of which is likely to cause confusion as to the origin, sponsorship or approval of the goods or services by another person.’
In response to Zamfir’s claims, CasperLabs submitted a notice stating the evidence, as well as the timing and legality around the filing of the complaint are unauthorized and should not affect the outcome of the case.
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