“We’ve been sitting here scratching our heads for the last couple of days,” says Greg Schrader, managing director of Teachbook.com. Greg’s head does not have an itch.
In an puzzling move, Facebook has decided it owns ‘book’, and has subsequently filed a lawsuit against Teachbook, an Illinois-based company that provides online tools for teachers to manage and share resources.
Right away, I guess that sounds pretty reasonable. Teachbook does seem to be playing off Facebook’s popularity, and Facebook tends to agree. “If others could freely use ‘generic plus BOOK’ marks for online networking services targeted to that particular generic category of individuals,” says the lawsuit, “the suffix BOOK could become a generic term for ‘online community/networking services’ or ’social networking services’. That would dilute the distinctiveness of the Facebook Marks.”
Aight, Facebook. That’s cool. I get that. But consider that Teachbook, as of yet, has two employees, and less than 20 users. If this lawsuit was a kung fu stance, it would be called ‘ornery rhinoceros crushes grape’. Something tells me they’re not exactly going to take a bite out of your user base just yet.
“We’re trying to understand how Facebook, a multibillion-dollar company, feels this small enterprise in Chicago is any type of threat,” says Schrader. He believes that the term ‘book’ is a perfect fit for a website centered around education. And he’s not wrong. You’re not wrong, Schrader.
The chances of this ending well for Teachbook are slim to none; though, that this lawsuit has been given so much attention is a bit of an edge for the David to Facebook’s Goliath – that is, of course, if users agree.
Do you? Is Facebook right to protect its neck by going after any site using the suffix ‘book’? Apple’s never bothered to stem the tide of i-prefixed products, why should Facebook get butthurt? Take a walk to the comment box and weigh in.