You can bet social media megalith Facebook is actively scanning the horizon for would be intellectual property infringers. And a few weeks ago it found one. A new online community for teachers, called “Teachbook,” is using a similar networking platform to Facebook. Facebook fears that adding the “–book” suffix to words could create a whole plethora of networking Websites for different societal groups. This, in turn, would dilute the trademark brand.
Facebook sued for cybersquatting, trademark infringement, unfair competition, and trademark dilution in the US District Court for the Northern District of California (Case No. 5:2010cv03654). According to the complaint:
“The ‘book’ component of the Facebook mark has no descriptive meaning and is arbitrary and highly distinctive in the context of online communities and networking Web sites,” the complaint explains. “If others could freely use ‘generic plus BOOK’ marks for online networking services targeted to that particular generic category of individuals, the suffix ‘book’ could become a generic term for ‘online community/networking services’ or ‘social networking services.’ That would dilute the distinctiveness of the Facebook marks, impairing their ability to function as unique and distinctive identifiers of Facebook’s goods and services.”
If the past is any indication of how this suit will go, Teachbook will may change its name. A startup online travel company called Placebook recently changed its name to TripTrace after a run-in with Facebook.