This week’s blog entry comes courtesy of everyone’s favorite place to post the most mundane and trivial tidbits of their existence for the “enjoyment” of their 750 closest “friends.” A few days ago, four separate people emailed me this article about Facebook suing a company by the name of Teachbook.com, LLC. Apparently, Teachbook.com has recently commenced use of the mark TEACHBOOK in connection with what is basically a social networking site and online community for teachers. Facebook alleges that Teachbook.com’s use of TEACHBOOK is likely to cause confusion with Facebook’s registered FACEBOOK mark and/or will dilute the distinctive quality of its famous FACEBOOK mark. In addition, Facebook is opposing Teachbook.com’s trademark application for TEACHBOOK, but the opposition has currently been suspended pending the disposition of the civil case.
After reading this article, I decided to see how many other oppositions Facebook has filed over the past couple of years against trademark applications owned by third parties. The answer? Since January 2009, Facebook has instituted 17 oppositions (about one opposition every 4.5 weeks) to challenge a variety of marks, including:
VISIONBOOK1 (Serial No. 77755527)
FAMEBOOK (Serial No. 77695428)
SAFARIBOOK (Serial No. 77769840)
GEEZERBOOK (Serial No. 77701642) (my personal favorite)
LAWYERBOOK (Serial No. 77657413) (where do I sign up?)
DOCTORBOOK (Serial No. 77657383)
ASSBOOK (Serial No. 77622795) (I think I’ll skip on joining that one)
TALKBOOK (Serial No. 76693743)
VETBOOK (Serial No. 77425396)
In addition to challenging applications for marks that incorporate the term “BOOK,” Facebook has also pursued oppositions against applications for MYSHAREWALL (Serial No. 77836062), SHAREWALL (Serial No. 77689405), DRUNK WALL (Serial No. 77482477), and SUPER WALL (Serial No. 77425457), all of which are based on Facebook’s rights in its federally registered trademark WALL (Reg. No. 3723894). And if you have to ask what a “wall” refers to on Facebook, it’s probably just best if you pick up your Western Electric telephone and politely ask the operator to connect you to anyone else in the entire world.
Oh, and Facebook also owns a pending intent-to-use trademark application for FACE (Serial No. 78980756), which is likely going to be opposed by a company called Think Computer Corporation. You can read more about that particular dispute here, but needless to say, if Facebook is eventually successful in obtaining a registration for FACE, you can be sure it won’t be shy about asserting its rights.
So, what have we learned today? Well, “like” it or not, you probably shouldn’t adopt, use, or attempt to register trademarks that include the words “FACE,” “BOOK” and/or “WALL” for services even remotely related to online social networking unless you want to spend more money than you have in your bank account fighting Facebook and its team of highly skilled and well-compensated attorneys. I know. As great as BOOK WALL FACE would have been for the name of your revolutionary new social networking site, I think it would be safer if you just tweaked it ever so slightly to remove all three words and replace them with three completely different ones. And I don’t mean MY TWITTER SPACE.