Facebook sues Teachbook over name similarity
Published 27/08/2010 | 12:22
Facebook is suing a new teacher’s community website called Teachbook.com, for using the work ‘book’ in its name, according to court records.
Court documents obtained by Wired.com, said that Facebook is suing the start-up, which has yet to launch, for “rid[ing] on the coattails of the fame and enormous goodwill of the Facebook trademark”.
Facebook is understood to have filed the complaint in a Californian district court last Wednesday.
The social network, which signed up its 500 millionth member last month, has also accused Teachbook of trademark infringement, trademark dilution and unfair competition.
Teachbook, an American-based web company, which is set to fully launch later this year, currently has 47 members.
Greg Shrader, a managing partner at Teachbook, told CNN: "At the end of the day, they're just trying to bully us and we're not going to roll over. We have every intention of filing an opposition in a month or so."
He also said that Facebook’s filing struck him as “greedy. We’re a two-person company – I don’t know how a multibillion-dollar site sees us as a threat”.
Shrader added that the US Patent and Trademark Office approved Teachbook’s company name in 2009, despite Facebook's protests at that time.
Facebook, in its lawsuit, has accused the company of “creat[ing] its own competing online networking community in a blatant attempt to become Facebook 'for teachers'”.
A Facebook spokesman told The Telegraph: “It’s not that they are using “book”. You’ll notice that we have no complaint against Kelly Blue Book or Green Apple Books or other [such sites].
"However, there is already a well known online network of people with “book” in the brand name. Of course the Teachbook folks are free to create an online network for teachers or whomever they like, and we wish them well in that endeavour. What they are not free to do is trade on our name or dilute our brand while doing so.”
However, previously Facebook has forced other web start-ups to remove the word ‘book’ from their company name. Travel site, TripTrace, prior to complaints from Facebook, used to be called PlaceBook.
On TripTrace’s blog, the company says it ended up changing its name after Facebook stirred up a fuss, because "as a start-up we were in no position to fight."