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Facebook could own the word ‘face’.
06 Dec 2010
Facebook is on the way to trademarking the word ‘face.’ They have been asked by the US Patent and Trademark Office to submit a ‘statement of use,’ or how Facebook intends to use the word. If they succeed in trademarking the word, it will mean that the word ‘face’ will not be able to be used in any context of social networking or any other computer-related activity.
This is the description of the context in which it will trademark ‘face:' “Telecommunication services, namely, providing online chat rooms and electronic bulletin boards for transmission of messages among computer users in the field of general interest and concerning social and entertainment subject matter, none primarily featuring or relating to motoring or to cars.” What will this mean for established websites or services that use the word ‘face’ in their name? What about Apple’s FaceTime application? (FaceTime is a video calling feature on the new iPhone 4. It’s a free service for all people with the newest version of the iPhone and it only requires a WiFi connection.) This could cause some big problems for Apple as FaceTime is definitely a telecommunication service. This could either limit Apple from using it in certain situations or cause them to have to change it completely. Facebook have already filed legal action or demanded a URL change of; - The social network for teacher’s “teachbook.com” - The Travel website, “TripTrace”, before demands from Facebook, used to be called PlaceBook. However in a pre-emptive strike, the Facebook parody site “Lamebook” has turned the tables and sued Facebook first citing “first amendment protections” so that Facebook could not sue them. After this, in what seems like a revenge tactic, Facebook barred any people from being able to use its popular ‘like’ feature on the Lamebook site, and didn’t allow anyone to link to it from their Facebook pages. In an interview between Fiona McBride (Patent Lawyer) and BBC news, she said that “Facebook is right to lay legal claim to use the word ‘face’ in the context of social networking sites”. What do you think? Has the multi-billion dollar Facebook gone too far, or are they just protecting their brand?