Facebook has demanded that its users do not use the generic word “book” when naming their businesses. The social media giant has included this word in a list of trademarks it owns, according to the newly-revised version of its user agreement.
The new Facebook terms and conditions agreement 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 consent.”
So what does this mean for an average Facebook user? Although the agreement with Facebook has arguable legal force, there is no way to opt out from signing it. Every person who uses Facebook agrees to all legal updates automatically upon logging in.
And if an idea strikes you one day to create a company with one of these words incorporated in its name – you may find yourself in court against Facebook’s lawyers.
As of now, Facebook has over 70 terms in its stockpile of registered trademarks, including such common words as “face” and “like.” Although Facebook does not have a trademark on “book”, either in the US or the EU, the mega social medium is well known for launching lawsuits against websites that use this word in their names. For instance, the Placebook, a travel site that has nothing to do with social networking, had to change its name in 2010 to avoid being dragged into expensive legal action. Facebook also has a pending lawsuit against Teachbook – a social site for teachers and professors.
Many believe that adding this new clause to the user agreement may help Facebook’s lawyers smash anyone who infringes in court during future litigations.
“It offers some layer of protection against use of ‘book’ in, say, a company or website name,” intellectual property attorney Denis Ticak told arstechnica.com. “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.”