Following an adventure that begun with a trademark application filing on December 7, 2005, the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) issued Facebook a “Notice of Allowance” for their TM Registration # 78980756, for the word mark “FACE”.
Now, before we all freak out over the “mass power” of the trademark, note that Facebook’s ownership is limited. According to the USPTO, the mark is limited to:
“Telecommunication services, namely, providing online chat rooms and electronic bulletin boards for transmission of messages among computer users in the field of general interest and concerning social and entertainment subject matter, none primarily featuring or relating to motoring or to cars”
What does this mean for future social sites? Well, we know Facebook will come after you if you use “generic word”+”Book” (we’re looking at you Lamebook and Teachbook). Now we know they will come after you if your site begins with “Face”. Over reaching perhaps?
Maybe, but bear in mind that if anyone can qualify for a “Famous Mark” status under trademark law, surely it is the company who reaches over 500 million users.
It’s a Facebook world, we’re just passing by.