Saturday, August 28, 2010

Facebook is a Trademark Protection Hypocrite

Facebook is the 800 pound gorilla of social media and it is doing everything in its power to stay the Big Man in Social Media (BMISM) (akin to the Big Man on Campus-BMOC). These actions include protecting its intellectual property through litigation.

Therefore, I find it rather hypocritical that Facebook is suing a company calling itself Teachbook.com and claiming that Teachbook.com is misappropriating the distinctive "BOOK" portion of Facebook's trademark. I believe that Facebook filed this lawsuit because it believes if it doesn't try to stop Teachbook.com from utilizing "BOOK" in its name other companies may try to utilize the term "BOOK" in their name and perform social networking. Facebook is not the first company to do social networking and it will not be the last company to do so. However, Facebook is doing social networking better than anyone else at this point.

Under Facebook's logic, Redbook magazine may want to look into suing Facebook for trademark infringement because Redbook has a stronger claim to the word "BOOK" than does Facebook. Redbook has been around for about 100 years longer than Facebook. In addition, it appears that Redbook has had an online presence longer than Facebook and has had an online community of users longer than Facebook. In addition, some of Redbook's users are the same type of users who may also utilize Facebook. Therefore, Redbook may have as strong of a claim against Facebook as Facebook does against Teachbook.com

It is extremely hypocritical for Facebook to claim that others are infringing on its own mark when Facebook freely allows and enables its users to infringe on the trademarks of others. Facebook knows or should know that its platform is rife with trademark infringement. Since football season is upon us, I will use the NFL as an example of how Facebook is enabling trademark infringement on its own web site. When you log into Facebook and type in "NFL" you will see a large number of users utilizing the NFL's marks without the NFL's permission. In turn, Facebook is monetizing this infringement by the advertising on its web site. Therefore, Facebook does not have any incentive to stop trademark infringement on its web site because it is profiting from the massive trademark infringement that its platform enables.

Under current trademark law, Facebook is not under any obligation to remove an infringing mark until it is notified by a rights holder of the alleged infringement. Facebook does have a mechanism in place for intellectual property rights holders to notify them of infringing material. However, Facebook should do more to protect trademark owners. Until Facebook adequately addresses trademark infringement on its own web site, it should not accuse others of trademark infringement. Remember the old saying, "people in glass houses should not throw stones?" It appears that Facebook doesn't believe in this saying because Facebook is acting like a trademark protection hypocrite.

To learn how to protect your trademarks on the Internet and on Social Media you may contact me at http://www.shearlaw.com/.

Copyright 2010 by the Law Office of Bradley S. Shear, LLC. All rights reserved.