Online Banking Start-Up Accuses Facebook Of ‘Ripping Off’ Logo

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The emblem for Facebook’s new virtual currency subsidiary, Calibra, bears a striking similarity to one in use since 2016

Current, a small online banking start-up, has accused Facebook of “ripping off” the smaller firm’s logo for that of Calibra, a newly launched subsidiary through which Facebook plans to carry out its recently announced virtual currency plans.

Both logos feature a stylised tilde character inside a circle, but while the circle in Current’s logo features a spectrum of colours, Facebook’s is a uniform purple.

The wave-like tilde character is also used in the logo for the Libra virtual currency, which features three of the marks stacked over one another.

Current worked with San Francisco design firm Character in 2016 to design its logo, and Character also worked with Facebook on the Libra project, Character creative director Ben Pham said in a LinkedIn post.

Trademark

On its website, Character says Facebook has been a client since 2018.

Facebook and Character did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“This is a funny way to try and create trust in a new global financial system – by ripping off another fintech firm,” Current founder Stuart Sopp told CNBC.

Sopp said he spent six months working with Character on the logo, and that he believes the design firm essentially reused its ideas for the larger-scale Libra project.

He accused Facebook of failing to do “due diligence” on the logo.

Sopp said his company has engaged a law firm to see whether it has a trademark or patent infringement case.

Both Current and Libra are aimed at providing financial services to underserved people, with Current offering products aimed at teenagers and gig economy workers.

Digital wallet

Facebook’s Libra, announced last week, is intended as a Bitcoin-like virtual currency but is linked to government-backed assets from around the world to give it added stability.

The project is to be independently managed by the Libra Association, which at launch included well-known companies such as PayPal and MasterCard.

Users without bank accounts but with access to a mobile phone could use it to make payments or send funds, Facebook said.

Calibra, a new Facebook subsidiary, is to offer digital wallet services for the Libra currency.

Facebook said it hopes to bring the Libra currency into operation early next year, but it must first convince regulators and lawmakers, who may be sceptical given the firm’s poor track record on data protection.

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