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FaceTime to be renamed?

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OK, OK – a bit of an “April Fool’s” headline but beneath the crazy sounding question does indeed lie an interesting fact.

Effective today, the U.S. Patent and Trademark office has provided Facebook with a “Notice of Allowance”, which for all intents and purposes permits Facebook to trademark the word “Face”.

I said “Pardon?”.

You heard me.

You can no longer use the word “Face” without paying Facebook or risk being thrown in jail for breach of trademark.

OK – perhaps I’m being a bit facetious here (ummm…no pun intended!) as the article does goes on to comment:

…today’s status update bodes well for Facebook’s hold over “Face” usages in “Telecommunication services, namely, providing online chat rooms and electronic bulletin boards for transmission of messages among computer users in the field of general interest and concerning social and entertainment subject matter, none primarily featuring or relating to motoring or to cars.”

But it seems to me that FaceTime is exactly that – “telecommunication services, namely providing online chat rooms”. Would this potential trademark indeed force Apple to change the name of their fledgling face-to-face chat product?

I suspect it’s much more complicated than simply paying the fee – as the Techcrunch article does allude to – but the entire concept of it actually coming to reality blows me away.

Once precedent is set, will Microsoft finally be able to trademark their “Windows” name, which they tried on numerous occasions to do? What about “Apple” itself? Will Steve force supermarket chains across the country – nay, the world – to change their advertising to “Pomaceous fruit – 3 for $1.00!”?

I loved the comment I read on another site today – and my apologies to that site which I can’t recall offhand; I’ll quote it if I can find it again – talking about Microsoft’s oft-tried attempt to trademark the word “Windows” in the 1990s and failed. The blogger simply wrote “We’re a lot stupider nowdays!”

We’ll keep you posted!

[Techcrunch], [Notice of Allowance]

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  • az

    Two grammar/typo mistakes in one article:
    – “… office has provide[d] Facebook …”
    – “… more complicated tha[n] simply …”

  • Anonymous

    I’m reasonably certain it won’t lead to the downfall of our civilization…

  • Rs

    az, your good eye missed “precident.” Furthermore, by definition, “typo” is already a mistake so saying typo mistakes is like saying typing mistake mistakes. You can also correct his quote: “We’re a lot stupider nowadays! [sic].” Why not continue this by saying that patents and trademarks are defined for specific markets/industries, hence Steve will not be able to force supermarket chains to change their signs. I have bigger fishes to fry… do you? 😉

  • Anonymous

    hahaha…thats how powerful Mark Zuckerberg is…look at his evil laugh..he know he has done what microsoft failed to do :D… GO Zuckerburg!

  • Sounds like the same situation when apple tried to reserve the ” i ” behind all their products

  • Murman

    Great response and great questions. No, I absolutely don’t think that Apple jumped blindly into FaceTime without registering trademarks and the like. And no, I don’t expect that Apple will force supermarkets to change their apple displays either!

    What I wanted to highlight was how ridiculous it was to allow Facebook to trademark the word “face”. I’m all for protecting intellectual property but ‘face’? Next it’ll be ‘air’ or ‘text’ or ‘click’. Give me strength.

    I would be surprised if Apple changed the FaceTime name but shortly I’ll be registered “time” as a trademark so if Steve knows what’s good for him…

    As for spelling, let them check. I get my stimulation from responses like this one!

  • Murman

    Did you find my typo typo in that comment yet? 😀

  • What can we say–Mark Zuckerberg is the man.

  • if he actually gets away with this I will tip my hat to him! lol

  • He should show Microsoft how it’s done and make a Facebook phone lol.

    Infact I heard rumors of that a couple years ago that fell flat

  • Anonymous

    Have to see a more complete analysis, but to me the term ‘Notice of Allowance’ Implies to me that it simply Allows Facebook to use the format Face____ on whatever products they develop without fear of some small developer suing them saying they used the name on some product they developed 15 years ago.

    I would hope and expect that it would not prevent me from naming a product using the term Face in it that was not currently in use by Facebook, but it would also mean that should they decide to use my name later, I would not be able to go after them.

    That arrangement would at least be semi-reasonable.

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