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Facebook sues over use of 'book' in web name

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David Silversmith
David Silversmith

Social networking giant Facebook is suing a small US based Web company that provides teachers with tools to manage their classrooms arguing that the use of the word "book" in their name infringes upon Facebook.

Yes that age old question "Which came first the book or the Facebook?" is being raised in a US court. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. district court in San Jose, Calif.according to a copy of the filing posted on plans to be a free Web community for teachers that provides tools to manage their classrooms, communicate with parents and share lesson plans and other resources. That's right, the site has not even launched yet but Facebook has already sued them

Managing director Greg Shrader believes Facebook's claims of trademark infringement are wrong on their merits.  He noted that "we've been sitting here scratching our heads for the last couple of days," Shrader told the Chicago Tribune. "We're trying to understand how Facebook, a multi-billion dollar company, feels this small enterprise in Chicago is any type of threat."

According to the filing publicized on, Facebook says that the "book" part of its name is "highly distinctive in the context of online communities and networking websites."  The court filing goes on to note that "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,'  Facebook's argument is that the use of "book" in this sense would dilute the distinctiveness of the Facebook brand.

This is not Facebook's first attack, as earlier this month, Facebook insisted that another yet-to-launch startup called PlaceBook change its name – the latter decided not to put up a fight, but poked some fun at Facebook and was renamed TripTrace.

Who knows who Facebook will target next - Hotelbook, Travelbook, Cruisebook or maybe Scrapbook - because after all there is no element of community in the world of scrapbooking.

Facebook certainly has the right to defend it's brand and trademarks - but perhaps they could have thought of this before naming themselves with a generic name made up of two "rare" words like "face" and "book."

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