By getting permission from U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Facebook moves closer to adding a legal weapon for protecting its name from upstart social networks.
Facebook, which has never hesitated to go after companies it believes were trying to leverage its name recognition, has received the go-ahead to trademark the word "face."
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday issued a Notice of Allowance that essentially says that based on an examination of the social-networking site's request, the company is entitled to a trademark on "face," as it applies to the name Facebook. To get final approval, Facebook now has to file a Statement of Use that says it will use the trademark in commerce.
Approval of the trademark would give Facebook one more legal weapon as it battles other companies that use either "face" or "book" in their names. The trademark would only apply to Facebook's business as a provider of "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."
Facebook's effort to trademark "face" goes back to 2008, when the company bought the trademark application of Faceparty.com, a U.K. social-networking site that launched in 2000 and applied for a trademark of "face" in 2005.
Facebook has gone after several companies that it believes were trying to piggyback on its popularity through its name. In August, the company sued Teachbook in federal court in San Jose, Calif., over its use of the word "book." Teachbook is a social network for teachers. That same month, travel Web site Placebook changed its name to TripTrace after being contacted by Facebook.
More recently, Lamebook, which has built an online parody of Facebook that contains funny comments and pictures found on the site, sued Facebook as a preemptive legal strike. The suit followed months of failed negotiations. Facebook countersued within days.
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