Half of Facebook Stolen! August 26, 2010
Facebook is going after Teachbook.com for violating their trademarks. Teachbook is a social networking site for teachers, but you may have already guessed that based on the name, which is precisely why Goliath is going after David in this case. The word “book”, or at least “[something]book.com” has the potential to become synonymous with social networking sites, especially if more somethingbook websites start popping up.
One of Teachbook’s two employees said “We’re trying to understand how Facebook, a multibillion-dollar company, feels this small enterprise in Chicago is any type of threat.” However, that’s not the right defense. Besides the dilution of Facebook’s trademark, Teachbook is a threat because there is the possibility of confusion between the two, and it essentially rides on the coattails of Facebook’s trademark. And despite the claim that books are educational and therefore Teachbook is just two educational words, the most crucial piece is that I doubt they would have named their website Teachbook without Facebook’s trademark already existing.
This follows the amusing trend where portions of words are considered violations of the trademark. Consider the ill-fated Scrabulous, borrowing Scrabble’s first five letters, and the various -opoly games that borrowed too heavily from Monopoly. Each of those is five letters, compared to the four in “book.” I’m curious to see if anyone will be sued for any smaller or more generic portions of trademarks.
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