Facebook has long made the silly argument that it has some kind of untoward iron-clad trademark on all things “book.” Hell, even the site’s user agreement contains a provision that by signing it, you agree that Facebook has a trademark on “book”, as though such agreements actually meant anything. And, throughout time immemorial (or at least as long as the site has been popular), Facebook has aggressively pursued trademark claims on anyone who dares to use “book” within their sites’ names or company names.
Just in case anyone was wondering, this hasn’t stopped. Most recently, Facebook has informed a startup called Designbook of its intention to oppose the startup’s trademark application.
“We don’t believe that any of our branding is related to theirs,” [co-creator] Pollak said, in an article published yesterday by Boston magazine. “Our logo is completely different, different colors, different fonts.”
Pollak and Clark say their name was inspired by the design books they used in school. It’s a “really specific thing when you’re an engineer… It’s your prototype book, where you keep track of your projects, your ideas, and your inventions.” Facebook hasn’t commented on the situation, but Pollak describes it as a case of “trademark extortion and corporate bullying.”
Yes, much like many of the other examples that people tend to cite whenever Facebook decides it’s trademark-asshat time, such as phonebooks and scrapbooks, Designbook got its name from a source that has nothing to do with Facebook and isn’t going to be confused for Facebook. And, while Lamebook appears to have survived Facebook’s bullying, Designbook doesn’t have anything like humor and parody to rest on as a defense.
And it shouldn’t have to. Facebook has no registered trademark for “book” in the social media space. It tries to rely on its claim of an unregistered trademark, but they’re full of shit. If such a trademark could get approved, it would have been by now, rather than the claim’s most solid standing existing in a EULA. Here’s hoping Designbook can fight this once the opposition is filed.