Over the weekend, Facebook rolled out a new feature called Find Friends Nearby. It enables you to discover people around you and make new friends. It sounds like your basic social discovery functionality (the huge trend at SXSW this year).
According to Friendthem CEO Charles Sankowich, however, it's just a rip off of his company's idea and trademark. Sankowich gave us the following statement:
I was amazed on Sunday to read that Facebook is blatantly stealing our idea with the idea they are calling “Find Friends Nearby.” Facebook engineer Ryan Patterson claims the feature was born at a hackathon as "Friendshake,", but we believe they simply stole trademarked materials of friendthem.com
More than two years ago we trademarked “Friend them” and have had tremendous success and exposure with this concept. In February I was invited for dinner with a Facebook senior executive – and now we see that Facebook is up to their old tricks again.
Even their language is similar to what has been on our website for a few years – “Friendthem is a location-based mobile app designed to help you make connections with people near you. Use the Friendthem app to follow up on missed connections for work and personal.”
We are consulting attorneys and assuming this is true expect to commence a lawsuit very shortly. One would think that Facebook would have learned to play fair after being through the mud previously with legal difficulties – but now they are doing it again.
We may not be billionaires but we are damn tough New York entrepreneurs – and we believe in this idea and will keep working to connect people.”
Friendthem describes itself:
Location-based Friend Requests - Imagine you meet someone at a party, a conference, or even out for a walk. This could potentially lead to a date, a new job, or just a great friendship. As you part ways, this person says "Facebook me" and then disappears. Friendthem is a location-based app which helps you find that person and send a friend request.
Facebook, and founder/CEO Mark Zuckerberg are certainly no stranger to accusations of stolen ideas, but this seems like a pretty loose idea, similar to functionality of other apps, like Sonar, Glancee and others, and frankly, something that Facebook would have done anyway. As a matter of fact, you may recall that Facebook acquired Glancee, which has been around since 2010. The acquisition, according to Facebook, is the basis for the feature.
We've reached out to Facebook for comment, and will update accordingly.