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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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  • http://www.dotponto.com Steve

    I wasn’t aware that Facebook invented the word book.

  • http://buzz2u.com buzzirk bryan

    I have the letter u in many of my urls ,hope Utah does not sue me.

  • Ryan Kempf

    doesn’t Facebook have bigger things to work on than this come and plus the fact the content is not even the same if it was then you might have a case FaceBook is a Social network for everyone and TeacherBook is just a for teachers I don’t think its a big deal

  • http://www.eateasy.co.uk Ralph

    I sincerely dislike beaurocracy and bullying. What awful people. Do they think any publicity is good publicity. The internet is far more fickle than that.

  • http://www.webmarketingpt.com Joao

    @ Kris, LOL

    Like everybody says this is ridiculous!
    And just goes to show that people are all the same when they get at a certain level.
    Book is not a brand, therefore, it should never ever be an object of a lawsuit, coming from FB or whoever.
    What’s next? all the websites with the word face in them??

  • c w smith

    Then shouldn’t companies like WorldBook be able to sue Facebook for using the work book too? Or maybe a company that uses the word Face in the name, there are a lot of those.

    This is a frivolous lawsuit and Facebook should have to pay all expenses if they proceed. This makes me wonder about the management at Facebook and what they’re thinking.

  • http://ananworks.blogspot.com ahamed

    i mean WTH??

    how come facebook owns the word “book”?? and also teacherbook is a completely different concept from FB… if they can sue like that for using a word, then google can do it to FB for many services, and also previous social networking sites can also sue FB na….

    there is no case case here.. jst a publicity stunt again by FB..

  • Dick

    International, National service marks (all 26 marks) are not applicable to domain names. No corporation has the right to a domain by default and service marks are not applicable under international law or recognized. If facebook wanted the name they have to stand in line and buy it like everyone else.
    Additionally if you alter a name or product by 15% or more than it becomes your property. Therefore if I wish to buy a domain name that was say facebooksucks.com, then you would see that alters the name by more than 15% and therefore by default I can sue them for harassment. Additionally even with 15% rule in play, they have no case.

  • Boris

    facebook founder calls its users “stupid f@&#s” for a reason. If that idiotic lawsuit will go forth and facebook wins it means that human word usage can be eventually limited to zero. Instead of saying “I love you” You will have to howl or use sign language or both.
    Just because someone has registered a domain iloveyou.com.

    Facebook used English words without changing them or inventing them like the term “realtor” for example. That’s why this is a very dangerous territory.

    That’s how stupid that is and there is much more than greed and trademark protection behind this so called “lawsuit”.

  • http://www.yahoo.com/ Guest

    Yes, the comments speak for themselves. This is just corporate greed for power and money. Facebook sucks anyway, I bet alot of people will lose interest in them. They are so hackable that I’m afraid to use them. I get facebook spam all the time. Yeah, what about the phonebook, it’s been around for about 75 years. Schools won’t be able to use textbooks anymore. What about the babybook that we sign for births, what about a cookbook. This is so pompous and insane that, yes, they should be sued for tieing up the courts and wasting valuable money, as other poster noted. Not the first time Facebook has been an a##hole. AND especially against something that is helping teachers who so desperately need the help. Our kids are border-line illiterate and any help the teachers can get, they should have. Screw you Facebook.

  • Guest

    It

  • http://www.discountdental4u.net Discount Dental Coverage

    “Sounds like a threat to Facebook’s existence doesn’t it? ”

    I’m not defending Facebook’s lawsuit but let me add a dose of reality by saying that there is a potential (and I repeat, “potential”) threat to not only Facebook (or any existing business for that matter) here as you should not be allowed to openly use a similar sounding but established brand name just because you’re a startup operation. Would it be fair for me to start a new cola brand called “Coca-Google-Cola” and cash in on two of the most popular brand names around? Of course not! So don’t be so quick to dismiss Facebook’s lawsuit just because it’s easy (and fun) to beat up on the biggest game in town.

    • Guest

      Teachbook’s domain isn’t even remotely close to cashing in on FB’s intellectual property rights. Teachbook is NOT even close in any way, not with their platform or their name. They simply used the word book and what do teachers use???? BOOKS! Should they have called it TeachPad…well then IPad could sue them or ThinkPad…it’s NOT a legit case and should absolutely be thrown out for ridiculousness! Not to mention, FB should be fined for their malicious intent! If this is a publicity stunt

      • http://www.discountdental4u.net Discount Dental Coverage

        I have to disagree with you and two points;

        First, both Teachbook and Facebook are social media websites so one could make the argument that ANY social media-oriented website that is that has the word “book” in its name could be construed as copying FB’s brand.

        Second, this cannot be a publicity stunt on the part of Facebook because their marketing and PR professionals would have completely railed against this lawsuit by correctly pointing out that it would be so unpopular with the public that it would end up doing more harm to Facebook then Teachbook could ever do. I’m sure it was solely FB’s legal department that wanted this lawsuit to go forward.

  • http://www.wearethemap.com We are the Map

    They should embrace education.

    Teachers need to be creative in how they keep their students attention focused on them and the fact that it rides the coattails of a social phenomenon should be irrelevant when they aren’t competing with them…

    Are they going to go after “The Good Book” next?

  • E. Wyatt

    I don’t think Facebook has much of a legal case against Teacherbook for trademark infringement. Nobody would confuse the two. But if if Teacherbook has shallow pockets, they may be best served by changing their name rather than spend the money to fight this battle. If Teacherbook has value to teachers, it will have the same value with a different name.

  • Guest

    FB, for me just another proof of mankinds stupidity. As if we don’t have other problems. FB should use there power to make things better not worse. I just wish that a hacker will delete their database. That would be fun!! No that’s destructive, better would be if it rains intelligence and people who are using FB know a doing something useful with their lives.

  • http://malcolmtmckinnell.com/blog malcolm mckinnell

    I think it’s a downright shame because there is a definite distiction between the two groups.

    This is taking branding to the extreme.

    Can that word actually be spoken in public.

    Talk about watching your P’s and Q’s.

    It brings to mind the fight between David Goliath.

    I always rally for the little guy’s and Gal’s.

    Malcolm Mckinnell.

  • Guest

    Teachers use books to facilitate learning so the name just makes sense. I highly doubt this company is malicious and looking to take over Facebook. Lets be honest there is no chance they could. The creators of Facebook need to embrace this and education as a whole.

  • http://phig.deviantart.com jimmy balia

    You should’ve been sued the english dictionary for using the word, if you think that was specifically necessary

  • http://freetoondownloads.com Guest

    For Facebook to sue a teacher for the use of the word “classbook” in their website is stupid. First of all, it’s probably a legally purchased domain name. Secondly, you can’t copyright the English language. If Facebook can sue Classbook, then how about Ebay suing Ecards.
    Dumb, dumb, dumb!
    Ron Coleman

  • marymary

    so much for my idea ‘spacebook’

  • Guest

    One word etoys.com look up the history.

  • Guest

    Retarded.

    • Guest

      its a moot point as they will both benefit from the exposure.

  • Guest

    Hmmm, well perhaps if Facebook wants to get too snippy and big for it’s britches maybe ALL of us 500 million plus members should all ban together and create a Class Action Lawsuit against Facebook for privacy infringement. They were not concerned about us one bit, and refused to change their privacy settings/policies until threatened with massive fines and legal action… Hmmmm? Hey guys I am up for that.

    • Guest

      agreed!!!

  • Guest

    You can not copyright one word. You most definitely can not copyright half a word.

    • Marc Allen

      McDonalds sued any restaurant that uses Mc in their name and that’s not even a whole word.

  • http://spacyber.tripod.com/id22.html GirlVegas

    Along with fame comes greed. I have been thinking about and am really now, after reading this, about to cancel my account. Not to mention that the law enforcement and Intel communities use Facebook and there is no true privacy.

  • Guest

    Doesn’t this sound retarded? This rates right up there with Goodyear suing BF Goodrich for making their tires round. Facebook grow the heck up and grow a set you retards!

  • Vicente Arancon

    So why does Facebook has a chance of winning?? I think they’re going way over the line with this one.

  • Guest

    I thnk the owner of Facebook – should not worry too much about teachers, but more so about the claims he doesn’t even own a majority stake in the company!

    http://gawker.com/5592100/facebooks-lawyers-are-unsure-whether-ceo-signed-away-the-company

  • http://www.gifzer.com Gifzer

    This is kind of disappointing.

  • Andrea

    Teachbook is a GREAT idea! I would love to be able to contact my children’s teachers online. It’s hard to get a hold of them otherwise to see how my kids are doing other than parent teacher conferences. The word “teachbook” doesn’t really sound good anyway, they should just change their name and save themselves thousands of dollars in attourney’s fees.

    • Guest

      Oh sure, just give in to the bullies and give them the upper hand. It’s called principle! What message would they be sending by changing their name after the threat has been made?

      • http://www.benewords.com Carol Frome

        Save thousands of dollars? Try hundreds of thousands. At the very least, I’d be surprised if the bill is any less than tens of thousands. If for no other reason, Facebook will have its way on this because of that. But I’m rooting for Teachbook anyway.

  • Guest

    Facebook has become overcluttered and is a mish mosh of just everything. They have a real lack of focus and I am finding that more and more people each day are concerned with privacy. I think this lawsuit is just rediculous and just an example of un-needed greed which is going to turn out as just plan bad publicity period. Niche communities are the wave of the future anyway.

  • Jason

    Not a fan of the litigious nature of our society. Also not a lawyer. However in this case it is not the use of the word “book” that Facebook has a problem with. It’s the fact that it is a social network site, and the name is similar and could confuse users into thinking it is owned by Facebook. In our minds educational resources may get greater flexibility in a case like this, but with the law there is no flexibility. Facebook may have a hard time making a case though, because of the fact book is a generic word. Microsoft, for example, would likely have had a hard time ever convincing a judge that any word followed by Soft, such as PeopleSoft, would be an infringement of their trademark. But companies software companies with “Soft” in their name had been around for a while already. I am not aware of any social networking site before Facebook that used book as a part of its name.

    Facebook is right to defend their trademark, if they ignore sites like Teachbook then essentially anyone can start a social network called Something-book, diluting Facebook’s brand. Whether or not they will win will be determined by a judge (probably several, thanks to our appeals system).

  • Man from Modesto

    Facebook was bought out by satanists. When they acquired it, like when they acquired YouTube, a major media blitz went out.

    Any competitors are offered buyouts. If they refuse, they are attacked by any means possible. This includes lawsuits.

  • John

    Well facebook had better have alot od money and a great legal team, because I can find at least 1000 web sites out there with either the word Face or Book in there domin name.
    Were will it end. We might even have to create new words to replace certain words just so we dont infinge on website domain names.
    What would I use for the word Book i wonder????

    • Guest

      o no they just found the meaning of thing: pages with writing and pictures

  • Oiseaux

    You can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time (except Face**** users)

  • Guest

    Anyone looked at it?

    It’s the sweetest thing! It’s just teachers that actually like to teach discussing the teaching of YOUR children!

    Wow facebook, you look so.. dirty.

    And I’m also thinking the owner (and he knows it) has a small cannoli

  • Guest

    Ridiculous

  • http://www.benewords.com Carol Frome

    Last I knew, you cannot copyright a word or a title, but trademarks are a different story. That said, what about Redbook magazine? Should it sue Facebook? If Facebook wins, it better–or Facebook might turn around and sue Redbook. And what about all those handbooks out there? Crazy greedy, if you ask me.

    • Greg

      They just want to get into the POCKETBOOK

  • jw

    There are plenty of Redbooks, Greenbooks, Bluebooks (not to mention little Blackbooks) with learned professional heritage which pre-date Face**** by many years. Bring on that Class Action! Just why are they so sensitive……….

  • Guest

    How vain of Facebook to think that they can control everyone and every word anyone can use or speak! They need to get real. Teachbook may be a gathering site for Teachers, but its use is more beneficial for Teachers than the daily drone on Facebook.

  • ralph

    i can understand facebook i did not know that you could trademark coman words like book
    or the. so no no no they have no lawsuit

  • Bruce

    The essential legal questions are 1) Did Teachers Resource get the new name “Teacherbook” from Facebook? In other words, if Facebook never existed would the name of “Teacherbook” be of equal value? No, I’m thinking it is of greater value because of Facebook. So there is some merit to the suit. But to the second question: 2) Will Facebook be harmed in anyway as a result of the “Teacherbook?” That is very unlikely. I’m thinking that this is just a case of Lawyers really trying to do their job (and make lots of money). Lawyers are people too, aren’t they? But they can do loads of harm themselves. Ultimately I think this suit is ridiculous! In this case, a job not very well done (but they can make some money). But, the Lawyers may argue: We need to “protect” Facebook’s name and set a precedent… to this I say Prince Poppycock.

  • Guest

    Come on now… There is no way that Teachbook competes with Facebook. Facebook isn’t for just Teachers, and Teachbook isn’t for everyone. Different animals. So are you saying that ALL social networks can be sued as competition? So can they sue the Phone Book, the Good Book, a cookbook? Gimme a break here.

    Besides, imiation is the strongest form of flattery isn’t it?

  • Kris

    Judges are not known for making good decisions in these cases. I’d expect the facebook bully to win. Probably any victim of their stand-over tactics will simply cringe at their might and back off without a fight. Common sense should prevail but it seems to be lacking at facebook. This is just another reason to stay away from facebook in my opinion. Afterall, its used mostly by children playing games and a total waste of time for any adult wanting to use it for business or advertising. C’mon google…. take up the fight and crush them for using ‘places’ in their facebook places name. Give them a taste of their own medicine!

  • http://www.echoingwalls.com Dexter nelson

    As someone who’s fought and won infringement litigation, Facebook has no case. When it boils down to it, being famous isn’t a valid claim for legal standing. Copyright laws are very clear on what you can, and can’t reserve. Bottom line is that Facebook doesn’t have a copyright on the word book or the word face separately, (and they can’t – the law prevents such things). So if I wanted to start a site named Teachbook I can (not anymore obviously). Facebook is just up in arms because their customer approval ratings are dropping, they’re scared about Google’s plans to launch their own social network, and the last thing they want is anything else that resembles competition.

  • Guest

    ‘Teach’–> ‘Book’. They’ve been used together wayyy longer than FB existed. That should be enough. Plus, things like ‘LookBooks’ have been around for ages as well, used by artists, designers, models, photographers and lots of other people in creative fields. So…..who stole the word ‘book’ first–no one, it’s a word which means basically a collection of information. Period.

    Facebook should really spend a lot more time and resources figuring out how they’re going to survive the inevitable lawsuits that will be brought against them due to their incredibly unethical, borderline/illegal stunts they’ve been pulling with users’ personal information. They sure have a quick prefab answer to compaints, but only respond when enough noise is made in public. Then, they MAY change their site to respect users’ privacy, but only if and when they get caught. And even then, it’s users have to find out how to fix their mistakes through other users, and the internet.

    Pot=Kettle

  • http://www.pokerhawk.net Hawkie

    This is hilarious!

  • http://www.jlmmerchandise.com Guest

    I guess I can’t launch my new social networking site “facespace.com”….bummer ;)

  • Guest

    Go back a little while ago in history and look at the whole Sun and Java stupidity. Sun had their lawyers send out Cease and Desist letters to any business with the word Java in its name. So the mom-and-pop Cup-O-Java little coffee shop was all of a sudden some sort of business threat to Sun.

    Come on Facebook… Is a web site that is trying to help teachers be better, to better educate our children that big of a threat to you? Is it that you don’t want brighter people in the world? Fearful one of them might create the new thing that will cause the death of Facebook?

    Or is it that too many people will get confused as to which service is which; “Do I have a profile on FACEbook or TEACHbook? I can never remember?!” If that is the case, then we REALLY need something to better ed-u-ma-kate us to members better.

    I just hopes I can do the mathz question right so my comments gets posted.

    • ralph

      ahmen ahmen

    • Stevem

      Firstly I’d like to point out that I was one of those small IT companies that received a Cease and Desist notice from SUN over the word Java in the name.

      Your comment regarding this and coffee shops is completely wrong. The IP associated with this is to do with an association i.e. the word Java used in the IT space and NOT in the coffee shop space. If this were so then there is an Island out there that would have been in serious trouble along with any plantation dealing in a coffee product with Java in thier name. Suffice to say, this did not happen. Only IT companies like mine trying to build a common association were targeted.

      Even then this was unfair because the association we were trying to build was not with SUN but rather with the Java Computer Language we use to provide product and service. Anyway I digress, we changed out name and history is history.

      In this case the same association is being made by Facebook i.e. it’s not the word “book” or even “face” that cause offence, it’s the association of the word “book” in the name of a social networking site that causes offence. Now, I am no fan of the legal system regarding these associations and in this case I think Facebook are taking an association to far.

      Yes, TeachBook does have “book” in its name and it is also a social networking site for teachers. However, due to the nature and intended audiance of the TeachBook site I would be supprised to see any court rule a liberty has been taken or any associan has been implied when the TeachBook site clearly has more claim to this than Facebook. By pure association the terms Teach and Book are more commonly used in the Teaching profession than the terms “face” and “book” could be assiciated to social networking.

      This will be a difficult case and could go either way, especially given previous legal presendents. If TeachBook want to seriously defend this case, and I would encourage them to do so, I would be one of probably millions, prepared to stand in line and donate a few dollars to their defence. Because folks, if they get chased out of town by the FaceBook “Faceless corporation” or buckle under the threat of legal action and change their name, then we all loose in the long run, condeming our society to constant litigation.

      It should be obvious to anybody there is no association or threat to FB but it’s not common sense that drives the wheels of the legal system, especially a broken IP legal system.

  • Jennifer

    But brand infringement and trademark dilution is what they are after, not the word

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