Facebook Trademarks. Relax, guys.

I’ve seen a lot of articles about “Big Bad Facebook” lately, and their latest (debatably sneaky) ploy to trademark the word “book”.

I think a lot of the hysteria is caused by people who don’t really know what they are talking about.  In my opinion, this is overreaction.

Have you logged in to Facebook lately?  Did you get a message that you need to agree to their new Terms and Conditions before proceeding?  Hmmm.  Did you read them before blindly agreeing?  Most of us don’t even look at those agreements before clicking “agree”, and Facebook is relying on that.

But if you did blindly agree, is it a big deal?

Not as much as people are saying.  If you are chewing your nails, this is what you agreed to:   “You will not use our copyrights or trademarks (including Facebook, the Facebook and F Logos, FB, Face, Poke, Book and Wall), or any confusingly similar marks, except as expressly permitted by our Brand Usage Guidelines or with our prior written permission.” **

What is causing all the hysteria, is that people translated this to mean “I cannot use the words Face, Poke, Book and Wall ever again or I will be sued.”

No, this is not the case.  Facebook is just protecting its very powerful name.  Personally, I understand that.

Yes, you can use the word “Face”.  You do not have to delete it out of your novel.  However, you cannot call you social network site “MyBook” or “FacePage”.  Either one of these is calling attention that your site is similar to Facebook, and you are drawing on Facebook’s popularity to increase your own.

In another example, I cannot change this site’s name to “JenniferBook”, because I would be making an obvious connection to the social network giant.

So, did you blindly agree?  If you did, don’t worry about it.  Just don’t infringe on their logo or name… which should be common sense anyway… in the same way as you can’t call a store “Shirts R Us” if you are not affiliated with “Toys R Us”  (Kids R US was a Toys R Us affiliated company.)

Relax, guys.  Facebook isn’t stealing words out of the dictionary.

Note:  I am not a lawyer, and I am not in any way qualified to give legal advice.  This article articulates my opinions formulated from my understanding of Trademark Law.

**Note2:  I could not find this offensive quote in their terms myself, but enough people are freaking  out about it that it must be there somewhere


7 responses to “Facebook Trademarks. Relax, guys.

  1. Thanks for breaking it down for us so we don’t have a breakdown;) OK, I don’t even remember if I even agreed to anything, how BAD is that? Oh well . . .

  2. Interesting stuff. I love facebook myself. Post there every day and use it to keep up with a lot of writer friends who don’t use Twitter. It has its purpose. I’m not bothered by the privacy stuff because, let’s face it, it’s called ‘Social Media’ for a reason. I always assume anything I put on there is going to automatically be spammed into a million homes. It’s not, but I like thinking that it will be. Kind of makes me a big deal in my own mind. 🙂

  3. I never got spam until I joined FB, now I get up to 50 spam a day. I will never go back to them and will never recommend them to anyone.

    They don’t understand how to keep private things private. Not everyone is a teenage girl that is updating her status every ten minutes.

  4. I hadn’t heard the hysteria, but thanks for lending common sense to the issue.

  5. Frankly, I wouldn’t want people to confuse my brand with that one. My work isn’t about trivial “events” or telling people where I’m hanging out at the moment. I’m writing real books—not putting together a bunch of status updates with pictures.

  6. Julie Catherine

    You’re absolutely right, Jennifer. When I read about this, I did go back and re-read all the Facebook Terms and Conditions – I eventually found it, but can’t remember right now exactly where it was. I doubt that any of us need to worry excessively about it – however, when creating a profile, or a website, or even a new business, you would not be able to use any of those terms in the name; and I do believe it’s rather sneaky to trademark such universal words like ‘book’ and ‘wall’. And I also think there are going to be difficulties with some pre-existing small businesses that already have those particular words in their names. I recall reading that there is one legal battle with a pre-existing small business that is still unresolved, as far as I know. But for Facebook users to be up in arms seems to be rather pointless to me – and I highly doubt it would do any good anyway. LOL. ~ Julie