Does ‘Book’ belong to Facebook?

“You will not use our copyrights or trademarks (including Facebook, the Facebook and F Logos, FB, Face, Poke, Book and Wall), or any confusingly similar marks, except as expressly permitted by our Brand Usage Guidelines or with our prior written permission.”…says Facebook’s latest TOS (Terms of Service) to anybody accessing the website. And by merely accessing the website you agree to it.

Facebook hasn’t yet obtained a trademark for the word ‘book’ in the US but the social networking giant is looking to restrain other websites from using the word in their names. According to news websites, Facebook has a pending trademark application on the word, ‘book’ already listed in the European Union’s trademark database, but its status is currently under opposition. Even though there are already numerous pending European trademark claims over the word ‘book’, most of them are in the context of social media which claimed by Facebook.

There are numerous examples of Facebook going after other websites whose names contain the word ‘book’. For starters, Facebook’s lawsuit against ‘Teachbook’ is still pending and it recently settled a suit against “Lamebook”, a parody site targeting Facebook.

If you ask us, the US Patents and Trademarks Office (USPTO) should shy away from grating trademarks for words like ‘book’. ‘Book’ is as generic a word as any and according to a common maxim of Trademark law the world over, generic words cannot be Trademark protected by anybody. Some Trade mark rights may be asserted by use, but it rarely applies to generic terms.

Case in point – a company called ‘myEworkBook’ which had filed an application to get the word ‘Book’ trademarked in the US, abandoned the application in February 2012 after receiving an unfavorable decision by the Trademark Review Board.

This fact probably isn’t lost on the powers that be at Facebook. Besides targeting anybody who uses the word ‘book’, Facebook has covered ‘book’ in their latest TOS, thereby making it look as though they have a legitimate claim over that word. This may help them in future lawsuits / passing off actions that they may file.

This move is not the first of its kind by the social networking behemoth. Facebook looks like it’s already on the verge of registering a trademark for the word ‘Face’. Have a look at the text below:

[See the full document here]

That mass of text is the Notice of Allowance granted to Facebook which indicates that the USPTO has accepted the claim of Facebook over the word ‘Face’  in principle. Once Facebook files a Statement of Use satisfying all relevant legal requirements, it could receive its registration certificate for the Trademark  ‘FACE’, which will allow it to commercially use the mark for various kinds of activities such as telecommunications, operating online chat rooms, short message and text messaging and message receiving, sending and forwarding, etc.

Talk about not wanting to lose face!

Next Article: – Illegal Downloading takes a hit

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