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