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Facebook Sues Teacher Resource for Using the Word “Book”

Does Facebook Have a Case?

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Update: WebProNews reached out to Teachbook for comment. Read Teachbook’s full response here. See comments from Facebook in the comments section of either article.

Excerpt: "We were unaware the Facebook owned the Internet or the term ‘book,’" Teachbook Managing Partner Greg Shrader tells WebProNews.

Original Article: Facebook is suing a company called Teachbook, which operates a social networking site for teachers, apparently because it has "book" in its name and "competes" with Facebook. Teachbook is described as "a professional community for teachers". Sounds like a threat to Facebook’s existence doesn’t it?

Do you think Facebook should be suing Teachbook? Tell us what you think.

Ryan Tate at Valleywag draws on some irony, saying, "Imagine: Someone ripping off the name of an existing social networking tool for his own site. Why, that hasn’t been done since 2004 when some punk kid at Harvard registered TheFacebook.com while college administrators were already developing their own ‘online facebook.’"

The beginning of the suit reads:

Facebook has become a worldwide social, cultural and political phenomenon. With fame comes imitation. Here, Defendant Teachbook.com LLC rides on the coattails of the fame and enormous goodwill of the FACEBOOK trademark. Misappropriating the distinctive BOOK portion of Facebook’s trademark, Defendant has created its own competing online networking community in a blatant attempt to become Facebook "for Teachers." Despite Facebook’s protests, Defendant has willfully and deliberately persisted in its misappropriation of the Facebook brand, forcing Facebook to protect its user community and the strength of the Famous FACEBOOK trademark through this action.

They’re protecting us – the user community.

Teachbook - A professional community for teachers

When a user (teacher) joins Teachbook, the site promises the ability to manage a professional profile and all info in the account by choosing to share with admins, colleagues, parents, or public. It lets teachers create lesson plans, instructional videos, and other teaching resources. It lets users manage their classroom communications with secure parent-teacher communication tools (gradebook, events calendar, classroom newsletter, homework space). It lets teachers communicate with colleagues through discussion, chat, blogs, etc. It lets them create and manage online courses and instructional modules. It lets teachers manage student grades by recording, calculating, and sharing them within the Gradebook. (I wonder if Facebook knows they’re using the word "gradebook" too).

Facebook drops the following stats in its case for why others shouldn’t be able to use the word "book" in their names:

- Facebook has over 500 million active users

- Those users spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook.com.

- Facebook is the second most trafficked site in the U.S.

- Over 150 million Facebook users also engage with FB through third-party sites each month

- Over a million sites have implemented tools Facebook makes available

- Through Facebook, users can interact with over 900 million objects (individual and community pages, groups, and events) and 30 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums, etc.).

"Through this usage, Facebook has permeated the web and Facebook users are accustomed to seeing and expect to see Facebook across the world wide web, not just on the Facebook site," the suit proclaims. "Facebook, and its FACEBOOK trademark, are famous."

The suit also mentions that Facebook owns a number of U.S. registrations for the mark FACEBOOK, covering a variety of goods and services, such as online networking services, chat functions, electronic media, online journals with user-defined content and electronic publishing services, and software to enable uploading, tagging, and sharing of electronic media or info.

By this logic, other companies that use either "Face" or "Book" may have to fear. It’s unclear what the company’s stance on the word "the" is, as Facebook was first called "The Facebook". "The" is only slightly more common than "book", especially in the teaching profession, I would imagine. Since "the" is no longer part of the Facbook brand, I’m guessing they won’t pursue that.

It’s also worth noting that Facebook just launched a product called "Facebook Places" , even though Google (their direct competitor) already had a product called "Google Places".

This suit comes at a time when Facebook is becoming much more integrated with not only the web, as the company pointed out, but the real world as well. Facebook Places is bringing physical locations to Facebook, and other third-parties are also coming up with different ways to connect physical objects (not just places) to Facebook. Watch out, books!

The entire suit can be read here (pdf).

I’m no lawyer, and I’m not going to pretend to be. Does Facebook have a case? Tell us what you think.

Facebook Sues Teacher Resource for Using the Word “Book”
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  • eh

    I mean come on, couldn’t yellowbook just sue facebook..

  • Guest

    Yellowbook is not a social networking site so that example is not valid. I think they don’t have a case though…

    • Chris Crum

      I don’t know. You can find businesses on Yellowbook or on Facebook.

  • Guest

    Facebook should go play in the traffic.

  • BP

    Doesn’t matter if they “have a case” – they have a BIG wallet and can beat Teachbook into the ground with legal fees until they comply.

  • sofakingdabest

    I got yer Face Book.

  • http://wilberelectrical.com Guest

    I have had a little black book forEVER… Can I sue too?

  • Guest

    Sounds like another sleazy-jet to me – sue folks for use of an every day word? twats.

  • JW

    Good luck. Computerland (circa late 70s’) sued Disneyland over the use of the word “land”. Where is Computerland today. Enough said.

  • FB

    if facebook win the suit, youtube can sue porntube for the word TUBE in video sharing.

  • http://subjectlinesandbox.blogspot.com Sandman

    Those awfully nice people at FaceBook are going to sue anybody using the word “Face”.

    Could be fun to watch.

  • http://www.collectorsindex.com tellasitis

    Haven’T use Facebook for ages, tried to drop the account there with no luck.

    Great! Facebook, another Microsoft with a Bill Gates mentality.

    Sue, Sue, Sue for money, don’t work for it just sue and get rid of any competition.

    Facebook is paranoid!

  • incredulous

    Really, FB needs to get a life and grow up. Haven’t they go better things to do, like fix their privacy police schmozzle etc?

  • http://buzport.com James Eduard

    Why they need to have that case. But I think it doesn’t matter cause they already have a million to fight for that case.

  • KMR

    Just another reason to stop using Facebook

  • http://www.delishibusiness.com Arwen Taylor

    No they do not have a case and their lawyer should be ashamed for even bringing the suit in the first place. First of all, you can’t trademark a common word like “book” or even have any claims to it because of its common usage in the English language.

    Second, by the sound of it, Teachbook has less to do with social networking and more to do with being able to communicate with parents and other teachers for the purpose of creating a better educational environment for the students. I doubt, or at least hope not, that teachers are going to be posting pictures of themselves at a party and holding 40oz and drunk texting status updates or playing Farmville for days at at time.

    I honestly hope the judge takes one look at this complaint and just throws it out of court.

  • Guest

    Everybody should stop using Facebook, like Google the power has gone to their heads

  • http://www.DomainZstore.com laserteq

    Who thinks up of these lawsuits? What a waste time and money. The greed in our free commerce hs created a lot of problems for everyone. I don’t think they have a case. I get threats all the time from people because I put “job” or “store” in urls. Most of the threats are never carried out. Yet they do have the money to make life miserable for those that are just trying to get by. I feel the internet should be open and creative while big corps get greedy and say this is mine, mine, mine. It is wrong but Facebook will wear the little person down even though their claim is such a sham.

  • http://www.mujeresdeempresa.com Silvia

    This is nuts! As incredulous said: FB needs to get a life and grow up. May be they should employ their time redesigning their interface that really sucks and improving their privacy isues.

  • Guest

    This is ridiculous why dont they just go copyright the two words and from now on anyone in the world heard using them pays a fine to facebook…brilliant idiots!

  • http://michaelduanemooring.com/ Michael Mooring

    Taking prideful/arrogant legal actions like this reflects poorly upon Facebook.
    The feedback speaks for itself. Failbook.

  • Guest

    If they don’t challenge every trademark infringment they lose the ability to challenge any. This isn’t a Facebook problem as much as it’s a tort problem.

    • Guest

      The lawyers can all go “Tort themselves”. Some day (soon I hope) a judge will say to a tort lawyer, “YOU CAN’T COPYRIGHT THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, ASSHOLE!!! CASE DISMISSED!

  • http://www.wellnesstalkradio.com kris

    i think they should sue everyone for using the word..oh..wait i’d better not use it….
    but what a disappointment that face…., based on the idea of sharing information and ideas should show such an ugly face.(no pun intended!) best of luck to teach….. Good thing Vook used a v instead of a B!
    perhaps we should start a new forum called face. no, the lawyers would go after that one too.
    how about greed? that sounds good.
    I’m going back to reading my …….now.

  • Guest

    They should be fined heavily for wasting the courts time, if they attract too much of this kind of attention it could harm them, but only in the short term.

    God!!! I hate bullies.

  • http://lordswitness.com Guest

    This suit is ludacris, get real facebook.

  • http://www.theinternetbook.com The Internet Book

    With fame comes the lawyers and the ability to pay them. Must be a slow day in the legal department. I am no lawyer, but I would have to guess that Facebook has an uphill battle with this one… good luck.

  • http://www.snerdey.com Snerdey

    OMG this is horrible act on FB’s part.. it’s just unbelievable!!!

    Thank goodness I named my website using my own made up word ;)

    Be safe!
    Snerdey

  • Guest

    no love lost for either one. one represents a total waste of time and the other the dumbing down of america teachers union.

  • Can

    I have a face then I should sue Facebook then.

  • http://lordswitness.com Joe Coon

    “I mean come on, couldn’t yellowbook just sue facebook..”

    There you go, and there are many reasons that this is ludacris.

  • R. Hiebert

    Another evidence of the signs of our times. One positive is that we can take issues like this to court rather than a street fight. A car service place in Toronto is experiencing something similar because the name they used caught the boss’s eye. If I were the judge I’d give the nod to Teachbook because it’s not close enough to be confusing.

  • Guest

    How about lots of people registering cheap domains containing the word “book” in protest?

    • Ray

      Yes, how about: Assbook, BookFace, FaceFart, Macebook….

  • Guest

    Although this may seem frivolous, to allow the use of “book” in this fashion might establish a precedent that would open the door for more serious infringements on the trademark. Even though Teachbook targets a niche audience, it is a “social networking” site that obviously is using the “book” in its name to establish its identity as such.

  • http://www.siskiyouwebdesign.com Siskiyou Web Design

    My, I would say every funny slant on a Trade Name will come under fire if they were to succeed in this suit. I believe it will only bring negative feelings toward Facebook and a big laugh for even considering it a threat!

  • DM

    Is this the result of the success of Facebook? Sure it is, would they have done this several years ago? Where will it stop if each part of a name is protected then it seems before long there will be untold lawsuits for the lawyers and only the richest and most powerful will be able to choose the name they want because it can not be used by anyone else. Besides who calls them Book anyway,
    seems as if their advertising says ‘FACE’BOOK. What a joke!

  • Guest

    It’s funny. The completly moronic timewasting “Facebook” wants to sue Teachbook. Obviously the concept of facetime is waaaay more important that the future of our kids schooling. 500 million crackbook addicts vs a couple hundred teachers trying to convey important information with each other…hmmmm..yes, I see the HUGE threat there to crackface. HA HA HA…so f’ing laughable

    • Guest

      wait a sec, I have to post to my facebook……Hi all my friends who I don’t know, listen up. This is VERY IMPORTANT!!! I’m walking down the street and eating an apple. Bye for now, text meeee.

  • Guest

    Facebook is loaded with hacking vulnerabilities. I don’t favor them anyway. But on the subject of the lawsuit, if I were on that jury with what I have seen so far on the case, I would vote against Facebook because there is insufficient evidence so far that Teachbook intended to infringe on Facebook’s copyright or copy their business model whatsoever. Least not what has been seen outside of the court in the news. I just can’t imagine Facebook being able to prove otherwise.

  • http://www.EveryonesLifeRules.com Paul Pasier

    Back when The Home Depot was growing in leaps and bounds, it sued The Office Depot for using the word “Depot”.

    The Office Depopt is still around, but that provides some type of precedence for the Teachers’ site.

    It sounds like TecaherBook won’t have a negaitive impact on FB and Book is such a broad use word that FB will not prevail.

    Maybe this action by FB is simply a sign of a maturing company –

  • Guest

    It is absolutely ridiculous. If I’m not mistaken, the concept of a book was used by teachers long before facebook used the term. Perhaps facebook should be sued instead for stealing the common word of “book.” ??? While I enjoy using facebook myself, I hope facebook loses on this issue in court. It is NOT an infringment to use the word “book.” Now I would definitely see a problem if they called themselves “Teacher Facebook” or something like that . . . but the simple word “book” with teach should not constitute grounds for winning a lawsuit. Why should facebook be this worried or look upon “Teachbook” as a threat to them? Seems to me that there wouldn’t really be any true competition with this anyway, and it appears quite petty in my opinion.

  • http://blog.famebook.com famebook

    Yellowbook has been trading for approaching a century and would appear to have a better case than this for Facebook’s creation of business pages. I would also suggest that a strong defense would be that, in light of their current reputation on privacy, surely risking this action is more likely to damage Facebook’s reputation than the claims in the action itself!

  • Guest Marie

    Mark, Mark, son you are showing your immaturity. I see money can’t buy wisdom.

  • http://business-website.webs.com/createawebsite.htm Mohann

    Can we, next, expect Microsoft taking up cudgels against WP for the word “Word”?

  • Ryan

    because the ebook sites contain one more common letter than just book.
    And god forbid if the ebook is about networking and marketing!
    Hope the judge throws away this stupid lawsuit.
    Facebook is becoming bad even before it becomes big.

    Nobody comes close to Google in quality of work and thoughts.
    Btw, what will FB do about MacBook user site?

  • Guest

    Are facebook about to sue anyone using the word face in their websites. MySpace and Facebook to sue owners of SpaceBook.com or similar MyFaceYourButt.com is a sure litigation loser.
    Shows the type of people who come out of Harvard, bet he’s a virgin as well!

  • RSanDiego

    What a pathetic megalomaniac-tic moment for the Brains at Facebook.
    So what are we going to do today Pinky?…. Plan to take over the world?
    So what’s next? Go after that nasty fellow Gutenberg?

  • http://designbyrandy.com ezdesigner

    FB is an pile of crap.

  • http://freedataentryjobspaid.blogspot.com billyzeke

    THE word BOOK is not a brand name like pepsi or Trump or Coca Cola it is a coomon word and as others said the word YELLOWBOOK was in use for decades way before facebook was even thought of maybe i could make up a social network called Peoplebook then what ?

    What a comedy this is and really degrades FACEBOOKS reputation !

  • http://ilookchina.net Lloyd Lofthouse

    What next? Will some company with “air” in their logo claim the “air” we breathe belongs to them and charge us for every breath.

    I’ve heard of corporations claiming they own unique DNA that is in someone’s body because they were born that way but the company identified the strand, and this is the same kind of insanity like Monsanto owning seeds for wheat or corn and fixing them so they can’t be used again to plant crops the next year–no seed crop–owning nature.

  • Guest

    what about my Macbook? Can’t we sue them too? Is there anyone else we can sue? I hope the judge finds this to be a frivolous suit and makes Facebook pay for the opposition’s expenses.

    • Dick

      Who came first the Big Mac or Mac Book? Doesn’t matter. Mac is a common word. If I was Teachbook I would teach facebook a lesson and counter sue. However they both probably in Californication so who gives a rats %#@%@%.

  • http://www.agust.com Agust

    I own eCitizen.net, eCityHall, etc, and have owned names such as OurTown and eTownHall. Years ago I paid a trademark atty to investigate this issue. We could trademark the art/logo created around these words but not the names themselves because they contained common words. Facebook will see this complaint dismissed.

  • Beck

    Are they trying to actually receive money from sueing? If so, why not go after MacBook???? This is ridiculous! Can we say…PUBLICITY!! and do they really need more???