Facebook has been one of the most aggressive entities out there with regard to their trademarks. Most recently Facebook has filed to trademark the word âFace.â
I must admit, when I first saw this, I laughed a bit to myself, for several reasons. 1) this is a common word that if a trademark were to be granted, it would have to be under a variety of restrictions; 2) Facebook is not the first company in the telecommunications industry to use the word âFaceâ in its name. That being said, it is likely that on some level, Facebook will succeed in having the word trademarked for protection within their sphere.
However, this is likely all they want. A trademark may help Facebook throw the book (no pun intended) at the competition -- and Facebook faces (also no pun intended) a wealth of it. GoDaddy.com, the world's largest domain name registrar, has 53,000 domain names containing the word "face" in its databases. The company also estimated that the Internet has 89,000 domain names containing the word "face" just in the .com world.
A trademark can cover a variety of things, from a name to a slogan, a jingle, logo, or even color (for example, the facebook blue). In Facebook's case, the trademark would cover "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."
Does something jump out at you there? Cars? What ever could that mean? I imagine that Facebook has been rejected by somebody that already trademarked the word âfaceâ related to cars.
The unusual trademark may be explained by its colorful history. The social network picked up a trademark application originally filed in 2005 by Faceparty.com, a UK company run by another British company called CIS. The original UK application covered everything from festival planning to dating services to text message systems.
Around October of 2008 CIS filed to split the various categories into separate applications -- one of which was for online chat rooms. That application was taken over by Facebook on November 7.
This doesn't mean that Facebook has won the battle for the word âFaceâ just yet. In the category in which they have applied, there are already 34 other trademark applications that have a âfaceâ component to them.
If someone else were using âfaceâ by itself, itâs likely they would be able to block that type of usage. But in the real world, that will have to be taken on a case by case basis.
Other prominent uses of the word âfaceâ are: Apple's newly launched video conferencing service Facetime which may feel the brunt of Facebook's trademark, though it may not be covered by the trademark. (Apple has filed its own trademark application for Facetime, though its efforts have been rejected.). Additionally, Facebook has filed a separate lawsuit against a pornography company with the similar name FacePorn.
However, we should not be surprised to see this application from Facebook, a company who has already trademarked the words "Like" and "Wall."