Could Facebook Lose Its 'Facebook' Trademark After Being Too Aggressive In Trademark Bullying?

from the lamebook dept

We've talked in the past about Facebook's rather aggressive trademark theories, under which it appears to believe that any website that starts with "face" or ends with "book" somehow violates its trademarks. This is pretty excessive and I have trouble seeing how it meets the likelihood of confusion test in most cases. While it has filed some lawsuits, it's also directly opposing trademark filings at the USPTO. For example, it is currently arguing that the website Shagbook cannot trademark its name.

Shagbook has filed its response to the opposition, which you can read below, but it hits back pretty hard, noting a few key points:
  • Facebook should never have been allowed to trademark "Facebook."
    The term was in common use in the English language well before Opposer began using the term in connection with its services. The term is used generically by many members of the public and by a wide variety of organizations. Because the term “facebook” was used by many parties descriptively and generically well before Opposer’s date of first use of the term, the term is generic and incapable of trademark protection under the laws of the United States.

  • Facebook is engaging in trademark misuse and trademark bullying for anticompetitive reasons:
    Opposer’s opposition should be denied under the equitable doctrine of unclean hands. Opposer has engaged in trademark misuse and trademark bullying by abusively using oppositions, litigation, and threats of the same to maintain a competitive market advantage. For these reasons as well as those outlined in Applicant’s counterclaims below, the opposition should be denied.

  • There's no likelihood of confusion, especially since Shagbook is a dating site, and Facebook has explicitly said it is not:
    There is no likelihood of confusion between Applicant’s proposed mark and the mark cited by Opposer even reading the description of Applicant’s services broadly. Alternatively, Applicant is only using the mark in connection with its online dating related services, and as such, there is no likelihood of confusion with respect to the actual services provided by Applicant as Opposer does not provide online dating services.

  • Not only is 'Facebook' generic, the company itself has used it in a generic manner:
    In addition to numerous uses by third parties, Opposer has actually used the term “facebook” in a generic sense, and is estopped from now claiming that it is not generic.
The filing then includes a bunch of counterclaims that go into great detail on why Facebook itself shouldn't have the trademark on "facebook". I have no idea if this will get very far, but it certainly would be interesting if Facebook ends up losing its own trademark due to its own overly aggressive trademark actions against others.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 9:10am

    Yup, they "could" lose their trademark. They also "could" flap their arms and fly to the moon.

    Speculative crap.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 9:12am

    Re:

    Wait, where is the lawsuit and related legal filing about Facebook flapping their arms and flying to the moon? I want to read that one.

     

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    fb39ca4 (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 9:30am

    lol companies nowadays are like four year olds, always trying to find something to tattle on

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 9:31am

    Re: Re:

    Anyone can file almost anything. It doesn't mean it has merit.

     

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  5.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 9:33am

    Re: Re: Re:

    So I suppose nobody should report on any lawsuit until it is settled, right? Anything else is "speculative"

     

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  6.  
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    out_of_the_blue, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 9:35am

    Let's help it along: everyone use "facebook" generically.

    Lew Kornfeld (of Radio Shack) I think invented this technique of undermining trademark. Paraphrasing his usage examples:
    "Wow, that's some amazing facebook crap ya got there."
    "Let me facebook and get back to you."
    "I've got some more info that I want to facebook."

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 9:35am

    Was facebook really in use before Facebook or are they just throwing in everything they can think of to see what sticks?

     

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    fogbugzd (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 9:35am

    This might make Facebook attorneys slightly more hesitant to "pull the trigger" on future questionable lawsuits or complaints.

     

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  9.  
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    codeslave (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 9:38am

    not going to happen

    Facebook simply has too much money and that's how the US courts work. They'll buy the rulings they want.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 9:45am

    Re:

    Well, I only have my recent viewing of the movie version "The Social Network" to go on, but in a nutshell: yes. It seemed to be common parlance for online (or print, I guess) collections of photos of different campus group members.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 9:45am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Well then perhaps you should be addressing the merit (or lack of merit) in the claims in the legal filing.

    But I suppose that is beyond your abilities. Better to just stick to making irrelevant comments that contribute nothing to the discussion, right?

     

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  12.  
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    TriZz (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 9:46am

    Re:

    http://tinyurl.com/3zu8anp

    "A facebook is a printed or online collection of photographs of people."

    Similar to a yearbook.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 9:51am

    Re:

    This is about right.

    The only potentially legit argument in the bunch is no likelihood of confusion.

    That said, I've seen strange rulings out of the PTO/TTAB (and even the Fed. Circuit).

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 9:53am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Reporting is fine. But not all manner of reporting is helpful. Some might even be misleading.

    I know you know this.

    It's sort of like reporting "Obama Could Be a Secret Muslim." Sure, he *could* be, and some wackos argue that he is.

     

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  15.  
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    Lord Binky, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 9:54am

    Damn, facebooking was too popular before they trademarked it. They should have gone for ScrapBook.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 9:55am

    Re:

    Sure. A "facebook" is a book colleges give out to students showing other students.

    That doesn't mean that Facebook doesn't have a valid trademark.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 9:56am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Rather, it's sort of like reporting "Could Obama be a Secret Muslim?"

     

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  18.  
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    Another AC, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 10:01am

    Re: Re:

    Stop speculating! :)

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 10:02am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Well? IS HE?!?!

     

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  20.  
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    Lord Binky, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 10:05am

    Your name is your description.

    Overall I think being able to trademark a phrase that describes itself isn't quite right. If you never heard of the company facebook before, and you heard someone say facebook, what would come to mind? Maybe... a book of faces? I do not believe you would hear facebook and think "must be a book of feces" because obviously that would be ScatBook.

    Although there are terms unlike face book that are ambiguous if you never heard it before. Such as face painting, is it a painting of a face or a painting on a face? But then... I guess face book is ambiguous, it could be a book MADE of a face or a face that looks like a book. What an odd condition that would be. I'd avoid a library in that case.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 10:06am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Well, I don't know, but it certainly would be interesting if he were.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 10:10am

    AC :
    "Sure. A "facebook" is a book colleges give out to students showing other students.

    That doesn't mean that Facebook doesn't have a valid trademark."

    hm... for some reason this doesn't seem to apply fairly to all words.

    ex:
    Sure. A "motorcycle" is a specific type of two wheeled vehicle.

    That doesn't mean that Motorcycle doesn't have a valid trademark.

    Actually, it does work and I'm going to start trademarking and collecting my trademarked websites names. All I can see is MONEY MONEY MONEY MONEY.

     

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  23.  
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    Richard (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 10:13am

    Re: Your name is your description.

    We overcome these ambiguities instinctively all the time (cf baby oil vs olive oil) doesn't mean it's not generic.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 10:15am

    Re:

    I recently saw an old episode of party of five from 1999 and one of the girls asked a guy to sign her facebook. First time i had ever heard it used before but thats older than facebook. Does that mean fox owns facebook?

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 10:19am

    Re:

    I recently saw an old episode of party of five from 1999 and one of the girls asked a guy to sign her facebook. First time i had ever heard it used before but thats older than facebook. Does that mean fox owns facebook?

     

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  26.  
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    DannyB (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 10:22am

    Re:

    > Speculative crap.


    Let me tell you a story from just a few years ago.

    There was a Linux distribution called Lindows.

    Microsoft sued for trademark infringement.

    Lindows pointed out that Windows should never have been allowed to be trademarked.

    Faster than you could say Anonymous Internet Troll the parties settled out of court. Lindows agreed to rename its company and product, and get this . . . Microsoft paid Lindows $20 Million.

    Hmmm, Microsoft didn't seem to think it was speculative crap.

     

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  27.  
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    DannyB (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 10:25am

    Re: Re:

    Yep, and that doesn't mean my trademark on Mouse isn't valid.

    Or my trademark on Tire.

    Or Chair.

     

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  28.  
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    DannyB (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 10:25am

    Re: not going to happen

    See my earlier post about Microsoft vs Lindows.

     

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  29.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 10:25am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    While it would indeed be surprising if Facebook's trademark was invalidated, I'd say there's a big gab between that and Obama being a secret muslim.

    Your issue is not with the reporting - your issue is that you apparently 100% sure this filing will have no effect. But why are you so sure? This is a real filing in a real case over a real trademark dispute, and it raises some interesting and potentially convincing points - all of which you have failed to respond to.

    So for people who believe this filing actually stands a chance, albeit a small one, what is so misleading or harmful about asking the question "could it happen"?

    Sorry, I just don't see it. Yes, there's such a thing as bad reporting, but this doesn't strike me as a particularly egregious example or even an example at all. For that matter, it's not even reporting - it's an opinion piece analyzing the news. It's impossible to analyze an ongoing lawsuit without including a little bit of speculation

     

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  30.  
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    The Truths Razor, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 10:26am

    I belive all Generic names like that should not be allowed, Next they'll be arguing use of the word "The" is infringement being that they were originally "thefacebook".
    this kind of crap is out of control, just more patent trolls, trying to stifle innovation never mind this is why "facebook" came about. he was frustrated his colleges "facebook" was taking to long to come online on 2004, if anything his college has a case against him. he just took it out of the realm of universities and gave it to the public, that being said they want to be able to help other companies and platforms use there "social networks" API to to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. in there own mission statement. So what are we to assume freely use the API, just no part or whole of the name, or is this a ploy to sucker a whole bunch of people into an infringement case where they litigate against all parties for stealing there IP? Facebook has got to stand up and drop the frivolous suits or suffer the aftermath falling by the wayside of grater innovators, less they suffer the fate of myspace...becoming largly unimportaint in the future.

     

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  31.  
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    DannyB (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 10:27am

    Re: Re:

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 10:31am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Why? Should be address every nutball court filing just for fun? Facebook is a pretty strong brand, one of those "ask anyone what Facebook is, and they will know" sort of things. It is incredibly unlikely that vague legal arguments about the existance of the word in the dictionary would hold much sway.

    The story in the end isn't about Facebook. It's just Mike working for page views and pandering to the "sky is falling" crowd.

     

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  33.  
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    Ninja (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 10:37am

    Re: Re:

    Epic win.

    In any case, anything Linux vs Windows related tends to Linux. Except maybe when you talk about compatibility as every single freakin company seems to think only Windows exist so Linux loses hard on these grounds.

     

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  34.  
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    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 10:40am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The story in the end isn't about Facebook. It's just Mike working for page views and pandering to the "sky is falling" crowd.

    I'd see it as more pandering to the "If only laws made sense and had relevance to the real world and how humans interact" crowd..... but that's just me.

     

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  35.  
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    abc gum, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 10:42am

    Buttbook ftw

     

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  36.  
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    Ninja (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 10:45am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    It's impossible to read this blog without seeing a little bit of Trolling.

    I can see your point, the person you are responding to is probably drooling holding his wooden mace with his long superior members trying to figure out how to respond to the non-existent "Pirates should have everything for free." he somehow read in this article.

     

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  37.  
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    Matt (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 10:46am

    Re: Re:

    That alone doesn't, you're right. We have "facebook" as a generic descriptor for any book provided to a group with pictures and text describing members of the group. That does not mean that it is generic for identifying the source or origin of a website.

    But here, the website is an online facebook. The mark was at least descriptive, if not generic, as applied to the website. In order to register it, they needed to demonstrate secondary meaning - and at least arguably they did not have it, yet, at the time of the registration (certainly do now!). The registrar could conclude that the trademark was improvidently granted at the time.

    Net effect - zilch. Even if the registrar agreed that the mark was descriptive and without secondary meaning at the time of original registration, it probably has since acquired secondary meaning.

    The bottom line, in my view, is that the equitable arguments will not work. The best argument here is no likelihood of confusion, which should prevail.

     

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  38.  
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    Overcast (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 10:48am

    So then... Facebook should be entitled to a trademark, but..

    Why aren't they suing anything with 'yearbook', 'textbook', or similar in it?

     

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  39.  
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    Another AC, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 10:54am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "It is incredibly unlikely that vague legal arguments about the existance of the word in the dictionary would hold much sway."

    Once again you're missing the point. Clearly the ones filing for the trademark that Facebook is objecting to think their arguments are not vague and have strong merit. Same goes for many people who are not you. Just because you disagree does not make you right.

    They are asking the USPTO to decide, that sounds newsworthy to me. Again, because you think otherwise does not make you right. Perhaps you can give us a reason how the claims are vague or without merit, besides just your opinion?

     

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  40.  
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    Ninja (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 10:58am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Trololol! Facebook is a strong brand now. NOW, I think when they registered it wasn't the case. And I use the word FACEBOOK since I first heard it like.. 20 years ago.

    So Mike not only has a point but his point is pretty strong. Learn to think my friendly Troll.

     

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  41.  
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    Ninja (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 11:03am

    Re: Let's help it along: everyone use "facebook" generically.

    Actually, Facebook for me is some sort of handmade picture book with a variety of pictures that are relevant to your life till the point it is produced. Incidentally it also represents now a company that had this exact same idea but makes it real time.

     

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  42.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 11:08am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I'm not 100% sure this filing will have no effect (nor am I 100% sure that Obama is not a secret muslim).

    First, I think the filing may very well be successful on the likelihood of confusion point.

    However, I am reasonably certain that it will not be successful on any of the grounds that attack the validity of Facebook's trademark.

    Now, I'm about to explain why I think those arguments are bad. But before I do, I'll note that nobody has given any reason as to why those arguments might be *good* or really given any analysis of the arguments.

    This is typical. Argument put forth by the side asserting any IP rights, always criticized and any criticism given credence. Argument put forth by the side rejecting IP rights, no critical analysis whatsoever, but reported as "key points."

    So, on to the merits:


    First point: Whether a term was in common use or "used generically" prior to use as a trademark does not make a difference in whether the trademark is valid. For example, APPLE was used descriptively and generically prior to use as a trademark for use with computers or music. What matters is whether its use in connection with a particular product/service is descriptive or generic. The product Facebook provides is not "a facebook" as that term is used generically. It is a social networking website.

    Even if it were descriptive, you can have trademark rights in a descriptive term if people come to associate that term with a particular source. Everyone on the fucking planet knows who FACEBOOK refers to when used in connection with Facebook.

    Second point, the trademark misuse claim flies directly in the face of the respondent's best argument: that the websites are not competetive.

    Third point, as I stated, this is a decent argument and might win, but it doesn't affect the validity of the FACEBOOK mark.

    Fourth point, same as first. "Facebook" may be a generic term for something, but it is not a generic term for the services provided by Facebook.

    The term was in common use in the English language well before Opposer began using the term in connection with its services. The term is used generically by many members of the public and by a wide variety of organizations. Because the term “facebook” was used by many parties descriptively and generically well before Opposer’s date of first use of the term, the term is generic and incapable of trademark protection under the laws of the United States.

     

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  43.  
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    Ninja (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 11:09am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Sensible reply, thank you for crushing the Trolls while providing arguments. I'm inclined to agree with you that it has the secondary meaning (the COMPANY facebook, the SOCIAL NETWORK Facebook) but the fact that it shouldn't have been registered to begin with still stands. Not that it should be revoked now (the trademark) but the aggressive trademark stance Facebook adopts cannot be allowed. As pointed out shagbook not only doesn't resemble Facebook in anyways (and I've tried looking at it poetically) but it also engages in different activities.

    Oh well, hope Mr Zuckeberg or whatever you write gets it in the face and stops bullying ;)

     

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  44.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 11:09am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Sure. Because in the real world, when you hear "Facebook," you don't think it refers to a particular company or source of social networking services, right?

    You think it refers to any old book of faces, right?

     

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  45.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 11:11am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Clearly the ones filing for the trademark that Facebook is objecting to think their arguments are not vague and have strong merit."

    No. Attorneys do not believe that every argument they file "has strong merit." They make the best argument they can under the circumstances, and hope for the best.

    I mean, when someone makes a ridiculous claim against Google, Mike calls out the ridiculous nature of it. But when someone makes a ridiculous claim against Facebook (and against IP rights), it's not criticized.

     

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  46.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 11:12am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    If a word is capable of developing secondary meaning (i.e., brand recognition), then it is not generic. That is basic trademark law. Thus, Facebook is not generic for social networking services because, as you recognize, it has a pretty strong brand recognition.

    Learn to think indeed.

     

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  47.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 11:13am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Why don't we compare the level of discourse in my posts to yours, shall we?

     

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  48.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 11:19am

    Re: Re:

    That's great. How is it relevant to Facebook?

    Also, I wonder who "estimated" that $20 mil figure?

     

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  49.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 11:21am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Absolutely right. Do you have a contrary point or are you just agreeing with me?

     

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  50.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 11:23am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I might buy a descriptiveness argument, but a generic argument is belied by the secondary meaning that has been developed in the mark. A generic mark is incapable of developing secondary meaning.

    "it probably has since acquired secondary meaning."

    probably?!

     

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  51.  
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    ClarkeyBalboa (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 11:24am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    No, i think Facebook refers to Facebook, and that Shagbook does NOT refer to Facebook. The whole point of the article is: Facebook is overzealous with trademark lawsuits, someone is finally hitting back.

     

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  52.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 11:24am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    If by "crushing the trolls" you mean "agreeing with the people Ninja previously called trolls" then I agree.

     

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  53.  
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    ClarkeyBalboa (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 11:28am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Wait...so are you saying you think Mike thinks Facebook is evil? I seem to recall reading numerous postings by Mike calling out the Winklevoss claims against Facebook as ridiculous.

     

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  54.  
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    CommonSense (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 11:28am

    Re:

    Yes, very much so. The website came to my campus during my 3rd year of college. For at least 4 years before I got there, and those three years before the website, every freshman class got a printed "Freshman Facebook" directory, with pictures and campus phone numbers. When the website first started, most thought it would just be a cool update to the old printed model, since it only allowed college students on it, and only limited colleges even participated.

     

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  55.  
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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 11:30am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Probably the same guys that work for the MPAA/RIAA.

     

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  56.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 11:30am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Lol. typical response. I can't count the number times a point made in a TD article gets roundly destroyed and then someone counters with "well, that's not the point of the article so you're focusing on the wrong thing."

    That is NOT the point being discussed here. Nobody here has contradicted the likelihood of confusion bit.

    It's the "Facebook could lose its trademark" bit that is being discussed in these comments. Is that off limits or something?

     

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  57.  
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    ClarkeyBalboa (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 11:32am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Hmmm...Lindows claims Windows trademark is invalid because it is too generic for trademark validation, despite it being the most used OS in the world. Shagbook claims Facebook is too generic for trademark validation despite it being the most popular social media site in the work...Has your brain stopped working that you can't draw the parallel?

     

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  58.  
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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 11:33am

    Inclusion

    Who do I have to sleep with to get on Shagbook?

     

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  59.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 11:34am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Wait...so are you saying you think Mike thinks Facebook is evil? I seem to recall reading numerous postings by Mike calling out the Winklevoss claims against Facebook as ridiculous."

    I hope you realize there is nothing contradictory between Mike thinking Facebook is evail and Mike criticizing the Winklevii. Right?

    More to the point, I'm saying that Mike applies different levels of critical analysis depending on his preexisting prejudices.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  60.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 11:36am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    So, anybody who makes a claim must be right! Regardless of the nature of the trademark at issue!

    Got it!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  61.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 11:37am

    Re:

    It depends on what the trademark is used on connection with.

    If I sell handbags under the MOTORCYCLE trademark, then it makes no difference that the word "motorcycle" was previously used as a generic term for motorcycles.

    Facebook is not providing facebooks. It is providing a social networking website.

    You follow?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  62.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 11:47am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "I can't count the number times a point made in a TD article gets roundly destroyed and then someone counters with "well, that's not the point of the article so you're focusing on the wrong thing."

    Then can you provide a single example of a point getting roundly destroyed? With so many examples you should have one handy for us to learn from.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  63.  
    icon
    DannyB (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 11:56am

    Re: Re: Re:

    > How is it relevant to Facebook?

    It is pointing out to the other anonymous that I replied to that there is better than zero chance that Facebook could lose their trademark.

    The point of my reply was to not be quite so confident that it couldn't happen. It could.

    I hope that answers your question how it is relevant.



    > I wonder who "estimated" that $20 mil figure?

    Sorry, I don't understand what you are asking.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  64.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 12:02pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Well, how's about the notion that FACEBOOK is generic when used in connection with the services provided by Facebook.

    Numerous people here have acknowledged that FACEBOOK is a strong brand associated with Facebook. Yet, a term that is "generic" is "incapable of serving as a means 'by which the goods of the applicant may be distinguished from the goods of others.'" See, e.g., In re Bongrain International Corp., 894 F.2d 1316, 1317 n.4 (Fed. Cir. 1990).

    Obviously, the term FACEBOOK is capable of distinguishing the social networking services provided by Facebook from, say, the social networking services provided by Myspace.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  65.  
    icon
    DannyB (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 12:02pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I have a contrary point of view, but not a contrary point.

    On PoV, I disagree with you about the validity of Facebook's trademark.

    But I do actually agree with you that:
    > That doesn't mean that Facebook doesn't
    > have a valid trademark.

    I would also point out that it doesn't mean Facebook DOES have a valid trademark either.

    I was pointing out the weakness of trademarks like Mouse, Tire or Chair. Facebook is much closer to this end of the spectrum than to a strongly defensible trademark.

    New, original words that are not part of the language (Xerox, Kleenex) are the strongest. Words like Facebook, Windows, Word, Tire, Chair are the weakest.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  66.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 12:05pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Better than zero isn't saying much.

    Moreover, Microsoft buying a mark doesn't really show that at all. Whether or not Windows is or is not generic or descriptive in connection with an operating system (which is not shown one way or another by your example) does not show one way or another whether Facebook is generic or descriptive in connection with a social networking website.

    The link you provided says it "is estimated" that Microsoft paid $20 mil for the Lindows mark, without any citation. Since I would be shocked if the settlement were not confidential, I'm wondering if that number just appeared out of the ether or what.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  67.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 12:09pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "I would also point out that it doesn't mean Facebook DOES have a valid trademark either."

    Also absolutely true.

    A trademark like mouse, tire, or chair could be extremely strong if used in connection with, for example, perfume or motor oil.

    "New, original words that are not part of the language (Xerox, Kleenex) are the strongest. Words like Facebook, Windows, Word, Tire, Chair are the weakest."

    This is oversimplified and misleading.

    arbitrary and fanciful words are generally classed together in terms of conceptual strength, such that a preexising work such as mouse might be just as conceptually strong as EXXON if used in connection with something completely unrelated to its dictionary definition.

    Moreover, that spectrum ignores market strength. Even a highly descriptive mark (let's take the bait and say that Facebook is highly descriptive) can be a very strong mark through development of strong secondary meaning in the minds of consumers. IN fact, that is exactly what has happened with the Facebook mark.

    Why, pray tell, would a mark with such a strong connection to a single source of social networking services in the minds of the public be invalid?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  68.  
    icon
    ClarkeyBalboa (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 12:10pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I never said the claims were right or wrong. I said there is a clear parallel between them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  69.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 12:34pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    So, how is that relevant to this Facebook matter? I mean, how does the fact that one time one small newcomer settled a claim against one big oldtimer relevant to whether this claim agaisnt Facebook is meritless?


    You seemed to think it was pretty obvious.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  70.  
    icon
    Marcus Carab (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 12:59pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Some very good points. Now, do you see how much more productive that was than snide insults about speculative reporting?

    Next time, consider going straight to your actual argument.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  71.  
    identicon
    GonadKing, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 1:53pm

    Response to: Anonymous Coward on Aug 4th, 2011 @ 9:10am

    Yes, and you *could* grow a penis and actually fuck a chick with it, but that kind of speculative crap borders on the fantastic.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  72.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 1:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    First, I made no snide comment regarding speculative reporting.

    Second, I don't think there's anything wrong with someone simply posting a summary of their opinion.

    I do, however, think there is something wrong with requiring *only* those people you disagree with to provide a lengthy explanation of their position, while not requiring any similar support for the contrary position, even though nobody has provided any explanation of why that position could possibly have merit.

    Next time, consider applying the same standards equally.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  73.  
    icon
    Killercool (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 3:10pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "em>Yup, they "could" lose their trademark. They also "could" flap their arms and fly to the moon.

    That's not snide? What qualifies as snide if not this?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  74.  
    icon
    Killercool (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 3:15pm

    Re: Re:

    They provide social networking based around *drumroll*... digital facebooks!

    You follow?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  75.  
    icon
    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 3:19pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I you knew, it wouldn't be a secret.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  76.  
    icon
    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 3:21pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Sorry, typo. If you knew, it wouldn't be a secret.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  77.  
    icon
    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 3:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    But pirates should have everything for free. It's in the pirate code! Arrr! It goes without saying. So its very absence implies its presence.

    Arrr!


    Sorry, my Arrr! key seems to be stuck.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  78.  
    icon
    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 3:28pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Sure. Because in the real world, when you hear "Facebook," you don't think it refers to a particular company or source of social networking services, right?

    Nope, like you presumably I think of the well known site Facebook. On the other hand anything else I hear named including the standard English words "face" or "book" at most I will think "yeah so thats where they got the idea for the name from" if it happens to be a concatenation of 2 single syllable words rather than thinking of any association between the 2 that might induce any kind of "confusion".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  79.  
    icon
    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 3:36pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Sure, there's strong brand recognition. But why does that automatically equate to a trademark? That would be like some company with a strong brand recognition of some name like, say, "Windows" trying to get a trademark on the word "windows" so they can sue the snot out of anybody using it as part of any other brand name. (I just pulled that name out at random. Really. No, honest, I swear.)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  80.  
    icon
    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 3:38pm

    Dating site?

    Shagbook, eh? Hmm. Never heard of them before. Now I think I'll go check them out.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  81.  
    identicon
    masnick is a parrot, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 3:43pm

    masnick is not a lawyer

    seriously mike, can you pull a single case where trademark misuse (or any IP misuse claim for that matter) has actually succeeded? equitable estoppel maybe, but the example given above is not even an example falling under the doctrine of IP misuse. go to law school. you might impress blog readers, but to anyone with any legal experience, you sound like an idiot.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  82.  
    icon
    Not an Electronic Rodent (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 6:10pm

    Re: masnick is not a lawyer... good.

    Seriously guy, you can't come up with a better argument than telling someone you don't like he's a crap lawyer when he's quoting a lawyer? So he kicked your puppy.. get over it already and make a point.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  83.  
    icon
    xenomancer (profile), Aug 4th, 2011 @ 7:22pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Sorry, my Arrr! key seems to be stuck."

    Locate and press the any key once to fix that.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  84.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 7:38pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    More to the point, I'm saying that Mike applies different levels of critical analysis depending on his preexisting prejudices.

    Absolutely. This. Sometimes I give Mike the benefit of the doubt and think he's just blind. But usually I think it's a conscious effort to misrepresent and spread FUD. Not to mention, spread an obvious pro-piracy point of view.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  85.  
    identicon
    jjray, Aug 4th, 2011 @ 10:17pm

    prior use of term "facebook"

    When I was in college (1979-1982, i.e., before Mark Zuckerberg was born), the student union at our university published a book with pictures and short bio of every incoming freshman. We students commonly referred to it as "the facebook".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  86.  
    identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Aug 5th, 2011 @ 12:40am

    I Just Love The Smell Of Facepalm In The Morning ...

    So as well as “Use It Or Lose It”, we now have “Overuse It And Lose It”?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  87.  
    icon
    Marcel de Jong (profile), Aug 5th, 2011 @ 1:32am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Facebook.com can have a strong brand name even without the whole trademark thing.

    Brand name is separate from a trademark.

    Besides all that, being a trademark bully, hurts the overall image of Facebook.com

    And another thing, this isn't a case where someone else is using the name "facebook", but rather just used "book" in their name.
    Sure, you could say that they are lifting on the coattails of Facebook.com when going that route, but book is a very generic and broad term, even more so than facebook. And by objecting to a site using "book" or "face" in their name, just because Facebook.com has a trademark on the name Facebook, is just petty and silly.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  88.  
    icon
    Marcel de Jong (profile), Aug 5th, 2011 @ 1:41am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The fact that Microsoft decided to pay Lindows instead of the other way around may mean that there's more to this than you think.

    And it's relevant as how ClarkeyBalboa explained it. Whether it's right or wrong is not up to us to decide but up to a judge, if he or she gets a chance to do so.

    Windows as a brand name is strong, about as strong or even more so than Facebook's brand name. Both are an established trademark. In the Windows-vs-Lindows case Microsoft decided to settle out of court in case the judge would rule against Microsoft and invalidate the trademark on Windows. Even though it's an already very much established trademark.

    Facebook is a word very much like Windows. Very generic. The chances that a judge invalidates said trademark isn't 0. It's a real possibility, and one I'm sure Facebook will have to keep an eye on.

    And who are you to decide whether a claim is meritless or not?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  89.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2011 @ 4:37am

    Re: Re: masnick is not a lawyer... good.

    the argument he's quoting has no legal basis. he'd know this if he was a lawyer.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  90.  
    icon
    Marcel de Jong (profile), Aug 5th, 2011 @ 7:41am

    Re: Re: Your name is your description.

    You mean to say that baby oil is not made of babies?

    How about french fries? Are they made of french people?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  91.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2011 @ 12:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: masnick is not a lawyer... good.

    Mike isn't a laywer. He isn't a journalist either. He's sort of a professional bitcher, I guess. I can't think of another term for it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  92.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2011 @ 1:57pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    An Anonymous Coward claiming their record speaks for itself. Now I've seen everything.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  93.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 7th, 2011 @ 5:13pm

    I don't know that much about the specific laws in question, nor do I care. I am simply a private citizen who sees an attack over what appears to be a very vague point of interpretation...

    I don't have an issue with Facebook defending the term 'Facebook' from being used as part of a legal name. I can understand them getting edgy about someone using a 'very' similar term for a very similar product (like calling the new social network 'Facebank' or something), but I have a problem with them attacking anyone who touches even part of that word even when those others are neither infringing nor competing.

    If this case stands and Facebook can attack anything that has the word 'Face' in its name, then that means a LOT of existing companies/products will be coming under the gun. Will their next target be Face, the movie? Or perhaps they'll go after the FACE foundation or Kiss My Face or About Face Theatre or Face to Face?

    And what happens after all those are cut down? do they start attacking companies/products that use the letters "ook" in their works? Or maybe any company whose name starts with an 'F'? Legal precedent never backs off, it only gets pushed harder.

    I realize no one is going to read this but at least I had the opportunity to publicly say my piece, however belatedly. :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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