After managing to trademark common, generic words like “FACE” and “BOOK” in the United States several years ago, Facebook is now attempting to achieve the same in Europe.
This might not seem like the best time to look for any positive outcomes in Europe, where the amount of trust and goodwill towards American tech giants, in general, may be at an all-time low. However, Facebook wants to complete its trademark collection, as it has already managed to trademark the word “face” more than a decade ago – making it plausible that the new application will be granted, too.
The application has been accepted by the EUIPO and is currently being examined, with a decision expected at a later date. The idea of trademarking common words is to protect established brands from those who might offer similar products and services under similar names, thus confusing the consumer and potentially taking revenue from those who were there first.
However, the list Facebook provided on its EUIPO application runs into hundreds of relevant services and products long, including things like electronic game software, wearable peripherals for computers, and software for modifying photographs.
If the application is approved, Facebook will start policing its competition for trademark infringements on the word “BOOK” – something that will not be an insignificant effort, but certainly not outside the power of the behemoth and its legal team. And the bad news here for its competition, especially small, fledgling companies, is that Facebook has in the past proved to be more than happy to go after startups for perceived trademark infringement – and shut them down.
In the US, meanwhile, in addition to “FACEBOOK,” “FACE,” and “BOOK,” more words that are now protected as Facebook’s intellectual property include “BOOMERANG,” “F8,” “LIKE,” “POKE,” and “WALL.”
But Facebook is not alone in the frenzy to register generic words as protected trademarks. For example, fashion designer Mark Jacobs and Ohio State University are currently in something of a race to be the first to register the word “THE” with the US Patent and Trademark Office.