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Steal Your Face: The Social Network's Latest Trademark Raises Eyebrows

Soon to cement its position as the new "face" of the Web, Facebook is reportedly about to be awarded a trademark for the word "face." The U.S. Patent And Trademark Office has sent Facebook a Notice of Allowance, which means the government will award the social networking site the trademark under certain conditions.

"While it seems so bizarre that a company should have the right to trademark a word as common as 'Face' apparently the USPTO isn't at all disturbed," writes TechCrunch, which first reported the news.

As CNNMoney.com notes, "Patent lawyers had been skeptical that Facebook would be granted the trademark to such a generic word."

"When it comes to branding your product, there are a couple schools of thought," The Next Web writes. "One of them goes by the philosophy that you can never really have too much visibility. That ... is apparently the method of operation for Facebook."

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"The trademark will be a powerful weapon for Facebook in disputes against third-party companies and services that try to leech off of Facebook's well-known brand," according to Vator News. "Unfortunately, one can also imagine it being used to instigate litigation against parties who use the word 'face' in their names just because it makes a lot of sense in describing social, people-to-people services."

Not content with the win, Facebook is also going after sites using the word "book," and "like."

In August, Facebook sued start-up site Teachbook.com -- which claims it is merely a teacher's community, according to CNNMoney.com. Last summer, Facebook also forced the travel site PlaceBook to change its name to TripTrace.

Meanwhile, "If Facebook is awarded a trademark on the word 'face,' it shouldn't interfere with Apple's mobile video calling service Facetime, since the Cupertino-based device maker has a trademark on that term itself," Inside Facebook writes.

Read the whole story at TechCrunch et al »

3 comments about "Steal Your Face: The Social Network's Latest Trademark Raises Eyebrows".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, November 24, 2010 at 7:58 p.m.

    Common words like "apple" are trademarked, so why not "face" -- what's the difference? Indeed, Apple was reserved by Apple Records until Apple Computer wanted to use the word. The two companies finally agreed, provided that Apple Computer not get into the music business (an easy promise to make in the 1980s, before anyone dreamed of iTunes). Bad blood over that breach kept the Beatles music off of iTunes until very recently (when hardly anyone still cares about dinosaur rock).

  2. Eric Scoles from brand cool marketing, November 29, 2010 at 10:23 a.m.

    This kind of nonsense is why people don't trust marketers.

  3. Robert Repas from Machine Design Magazine, November 29, 2010 at 12:26 p.m.

    What I want to know is who was the incompetent bureaucrat that authorized use of a common word in the first place?

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