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Facebook Revises User Agreement to Bolster Trademark Claim on Word 'Book'

As we have seen for a couple of years now, Facebook really wants to hold trademark rights over the word "book." It does not have a registered trademark on the word, but that has not stopped it from filing lawsuits against websites such as Placebook, Teachbook and Lamebook (discussed here) alleging trademark violations by those businesses. Law & Disorder reports that Placebook changed its name rather than litigate the matter, Lamebook reached a settlement that allowed it to keep the name, and litigation is pending between Facebook and Teachbook.

Now, Law & Disorder notes, Facebook is trying to bolster its right to the word "book" by adding a claim to it in its revised "Statement of Rights and Responsibilities" for its users. The idea is that by using the term and binding its many users, Facebook can add support to its legal arguments in future "book" lawsuits.

Specifically, Facebook's Statement of Rights and Responsibilities now reads, 

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.

The word "book" did not appear in prior versions. 

Law & Disorder also notes that other companies such as myEworkBook have tried, and failed, to trademark the word "book" in the U.S. Facebook has submitted a trademark application on "book" in the European Union's trademark database, but the application has been opposed on the grounds of "likelihood of confusion."

Trademark experts say that although the terms of Facebook's Statement of Rights and Responsibilities only apply to its users, this still helps Facebook given the hundreds of millions of users it has worldwide. Speaking to Law & Disorder reporter Jon Brodkin, attorney Denis Ticak explained, "Let's say you go out and create 'Brodkinbook.' Whether or not they have a registered trademark on 'book,' since you in all likelihood use Facebook and so have accepted that contract, they can arguably prevent you from using that name on the site."

Posted by Bruce Carton on March 23, 2012 at 04:16 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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