Thursday, November 25, 2010

In your Face, Dude

Let's face it, so-called proprietary ownership of common language has gone too far. Old McDonald should be turning over in his grave. This is nothing more than common thievery. Thievery of the commons.

Facebook Allowed to Trademark the Word 'Face'
Businesses thinking of including "face" in their name might want to reconsider. Facebook this week was granted a notice of allowance to trademark the word "face."

The effort to trademark "face" goes back to 2005 when CIS Internet Limited, a U.K.-based company, tried to trademark "face" for its site. Facebook bought the application from CIS in 2008.

Even without the official "face" trademark, Facebook has already gone after companies using "face" – as well as "book" – in their business names.

In August, the company sued Teachbook, arguing that "book" is a term associated with Facebook. Selecting "book" was a completely arbitrary choice and "pilfers a distinctive part of the Facebook," Facebook said. Travel site PlaceBook also changed its name to TripTrace after Facebook contacted the site and said its name was confusingly similar to its own.

In October, Facebook sued Faceporn, citing copyright infringement. Facebook said that Faceporn "blatantly copied the Facebook logo, site, and Wall trademark." Facebook was awarded a patent for its news feed in February.

More recently, Facebook has been in a battle with Lamebook, a parody site that makes fun of the ridiculous things posted to the social-networking site. Last week, Facebook filed a trademark infringement case against the site since Lamebook uses a logo and marks similar to Facebook's throughout its site. "The content and functionality that appears on the Lamebook site is essentially derived from the Facebook site," Facebook wrote in its suit, filed in California District Court.

Facebook later shut down the Lamebook fan page, though Facebook chief technology officer Bret Taylor later told TechCrunch that that was a mistake. "In the process of dealing with a routine trademark violation issue regarding some links posted to Facebook, we blocked all mentions of the phrase 'lamebook' on Facebook," Taylor said.

Lamebook later set up a legal assistance fund. "Facebook didn't get the joke. They've decided to pick on the little guys: small business owners who seem to be no match for a multi-billion dollar behemoth. But this is one Web site that's not going down without a fight" the company wrote. "With our first amendment rights under fire, we've made a daring legal move that we believe will help us defend ourselves under the law and keep this site up, allowing us to keep bringing you, your friends, your parents, and your creepy uncle the insanity that's had us in stitches since we started. Thing is, we need your support."

Guambat reckons it's about time we did an about face on this squatters rights of every day usage of our language.

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