Posted August 27, 2010 7:54 am by with 4 comments

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You read it right. As I noted yesterday, Facebook had become so big and so powerful that they are starting to make Microsoft like moves that make it impossible to not poke fun at them. The efforts to force sites like Teachbook, and possibly others, to stop using book in their names apparently weren’t enough for Facebook. Now it appears as if they are making an effort to trademark the word ‘face’.

In the “you can’t make this crap up category” TechCrunch reports

It is not just the word “book” at the end of a company or product name that Facebook might object to. If it has its way, the word “Face” at the beginning of a name might also bring out its lawyers. In fact, Facebook is currently trying to register the word “Face” as a trademark . (It already owns the trademark on “Facebook” ). Facebook took over the trademark application for “Face” from a company in the UK called CIS Internet Limited, which operated a site . Presumably, Facebook bought the application sometime around November, 2008, which is when its lawyer started dealing with the USPTO.

Last May Facebook had settled with Aaron Greenberg about the Facebook trademark and this latest move has brought Greenberg out of the woodwork again. He has a company called FaceCash and this is great time to get some free exposure, ooops, I mean come to the aid of others like him who could be affected by Facebook’s patenting of many of the basic words in the English language.

If Facebook gets the trademark for the word “Face,” that could spell trouble for FaceCash. “The possible registration has implications for my company (not to mention hundreds of others, including Apple, Inc.), so I’ve decided to ask the USPTO for an extension of time to oppose it,” (Greenberg) explains in an email. Apple, of course, owns the trademark to Facetime the video calling feature on the latest iPhones.

So there really isn’t anything else to say other than I wonder what Facebook is really thinking? I don’t know but one gets the feeling that the move to 1 billion users seems more about power for Facebook than it is about empowerment of its users.

Be sure to enjoy what may be limited time using the words ‘face’ and ‘book’ without Facebook’s permission. Maybe one day the Facebook chip implanted in account holders will give a little electrical shock when they step out of line and say something that could be reminiscent of a normal conversation that was once part of the public domain.

Ah yes, isn’t social media great?

  • This not only has implications for businesses that use the words “face” and “book”. If Facebook wins with either case (which I doubt) then it will set a new precedent for trademark usage worldwide. Imagine having to ask permission to use any of the following words from the companies that “own” them:

    Big – McDonald’s for “Big Mac”
    Flick – You can’t Flickr it off your finger, but you can flick it.
    You – Google owns almost everything on the Web, including YouTube; thankfully, it doesn’t own “You” – yet.
    Ask – If gets frisky, you won’t even be able to ask any clarifying questions.
    Goo – It’s fun picking on Google and what’s the goo on your shoe, by the way?
    Tube – Besides, you won’t be able to river raft on your intertube (unless you agree to upload your video of it exclusively on YouTube).
    Pizza – I can see the mad dash right now between Pizza Hut, Pizza Inn and every Mom and Pop pizza joint in America to see who can be the first to trademark the word “pizza”. After that, you’ll never be able to call Papa John’s again unless you can place your order without saying the onerous P-word.

    Some things are just beyond ridiculous.

  • Ann Williams

    Agree. Beyond ridiculous. So; are they just after “face” and “book” in English, or are they going linguistically global in that quest? Faccia libro no longer available for Italians? What will the Pope say?

  • Now I have heard everything. The law is vague on the trademarking of common words. Ofter it is ruled based on context – thus Apple could trademark their name in the context of computers but Apple Drugs can use Apple in their name. Don’t know how this will play out but as noted before the implications are crazy

  • hahaha. i left a comment yesterday saying they should try and trade mark either face or dotcom … lol.