Legal Issues

by Carlo Longino

Facebook Says Leave The Innovation To Us, Please, And Quit Using The Word Face While You're At It

from the face-face-face-face-face-now-sue-me dept

Following the recent uproar at Facebook after it introduced new features to track users' activity, it looks like the site's a little paranoid about privacy: they've sent a cease and desist notice to a college student about his site, UnFaced, which lets users track who views their Facebook profile, how long they spend watching it, and somehow calculates their "compatibility" with the user. Sounds like a fairly useful add-on to Facebook, and something that could make the site more compelling and more useful for users -- which is a good thing, right? Wrong, says Facebook, which says UnFaced violates its terms and conditions. They've also shut off its creators' Facebook profile, and perhaps most annoyingly, says that the use of the word "face" in its name could violate its trademark. If Facebook doesn't want to let other people help make its product more useful, that's their business, but basically accusing people of bogus trademark infringment represents little more than a scare tactic to try and force the kid to back down. It's pretty obvious, probably even to a moron in a hurry, that UnFaced isn't Facebook. But maybe Facebook's saying something about the intelligence of their user base?

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    eric, Oct 2nd, 2006 @ 12:59pm

    i tried it

    and farcebook was almost unusable...unless I wanted to see silly pictures of the little girls

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

  2. identicon
    m@, Oct 2nd, 2006 @ 1:09pm

    They're coming for you

    Lt. Templeton "Faceman" Peck better get his buds Hannibal, Howlin Mad and BA to watch his back.

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

  3. icon
    Facebook_Watchdog (profile), Oct 2nd, 2006 @ 2:19pm

    Eh... it's not so bad

    I went and searched Facebook for John Arrow, and sure enough I stumbled across an advocacy group. After reading both the CNET article and the letter from Andrew Bodsworth (the c&d, which was posted on the group's page), I don't see what the big deal is.

    The letter was very personable and reasonable, and it isn't as if they DELETED his profile. It was simply DEACTIVATED to get his attention (i.e. it will be reactivated when he complies and he'll have three or four days of Feed to catch up on). If a bunch of users like his thing, then they can send e-mails to Facebook who might then allow them to keep it. If he wants to call their bluff on trademark issues, then he's welcome to hire lawyers.

    Overall, I don't get why people would be upset over this. Though it might make Facebook "more valuable" to some stalk-- er, users, I think on the whole Facebookers would probably appreciate the fact that Facebook doesn't let random tards data mine their activities. After all, with all the complaining about the infamous News Feed telling people when they join and leave groups, how do you think people would feel about someone recording the time they spend looking at profiles without their consent?

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

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2006 @ 2:50pm

    Another 500,000 college kids just bailed on Facebook for doing something uncool that only a big corporation would do.

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

  5. identicon
    kilroy, Oct 2nd, 2006 @ 2:55pm

    Re: Eh... it's not so bad

    Maybe people want to know how useful a profile is ... I belong to sites that leave me wondering IF they are worth the time/effort/cost and would appreciate a bit of information about how much use some of them are getting. I know nothing about FaceBook and dont much care but you cannot trademark the word face ... or at least not entirely. It is a common word in the English language & is even used in some slang.

    Do we all have to stop sucking face or do we just not talk about it?

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

  6. identicon
    Matt, Oct 2nd, 2006 @ 2:56pm


    FaceBook sucks. It's just the lamest addiction for college idiots.

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

  7. identicon
    just ®idiculous, Oct 2nd, 2006 @ 2:56pm

    McFacebook Sandwhich

    if McDonald's trademarks prevent any other restaurant from offering any menu item containing "Mc" then Facebook may have a legal point against UnFace. Doesn't much matter though, Facebook is so 2006.

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

  8. identicon
    Mousky, Oct 2nd, 2006 @ 3:10pm

    Welcome to the world of lawyers making business decisions.

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

  9. identicon
    Geoffrey Kidd, Oct 2nd, 2006 @ 3:49pm

    Re: "Welcome to the world..."

    Excuse me? Major US corporations haven't looked at a move in over sixty years without having either had the lawyers suggest it, approve it, or squash it.

    What planet did you say you were from, again?

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

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 2nd, 2006 @ 4:08pm

    "What planet..."

    sometimes I wonder myself, in the past 20 years this country has gotten infinitely more juvenille and idiotic.

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

  11. identicon
    Eric, Oct 2nd, 2006 @ 8:09pm

    Matt - Newsflash

    Anybody that posts to articles on Techdirt isn't the target demographic of Facebook. You miss the point: it isn't how "intelligent" it is, its how popular.

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

  12. identicon
    Khidr, Oct 2nd, 2006 @ 11:04pm

    Likelihood of confusion

    It's a concept: If Un-Faced was a social networking site, offering college students a way to keep track of their exes... they might have a TM claim.

    The only possible argument they could make, is that people will assume that Un-Faced is a facebook product, but I'd really hate to be the guy charged with arguing that with a straight... well... you know.

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

  13. identicon
    Obvious Man, Oct 6th, 2006 @ 8:32am

    They should let go of their current legal counselors. Obviously either the legal branch has too much zeal and too much control,

    or they can't exert enough power to stop Facebook's FOP (Fools On Parade, otherwise known as the 'decision-makers' kinda like a CEFO, only the acronym is FEFO) from committing the standard Corporate Hari-Kiri that most other coprorations do once they so blatantly alienate their own client base.

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

  14. identicon
    Jess, Oct 12th, 2006 @ 7:39pm


    I would think as unfaced as being connected with facebook. It's basic branding and marketing.

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

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