Facebook and the CEO’s behind it have been trying to trademark the word ‘face’ since 2005, when an application in this purpose was filed. Recent news point out that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) have granted Facebook a notice of allowance. This notice basically means that Facebook is one fee away from trademarking the first half of their name. This fee must be payed by the company in three months, they also have to submit a statement of use. In other words Facebook is very close in accomplishing it’s goal.
Still, one has to ask one’s self how can a word as common as ‘face’ be trademarked and what are the consequences of such an event. Well, we must note that the trademark only covers the usage of the word ‘face’ in an online context: “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”.
Despite this regulations, trademarking of the word face reverberates in the internet community threatening sites that incorporate the word ‘face’ in their name. Owning a trademark on such a common word is quite frightening considering the trademark could be used in legal actions against companies that use the word. This trademark could also set a precedent, starting a trademark fever of common words. Facebook has experience in confronting companies that use the word ‘face’ or ‘book’ in their names, for example Placebook.com was forced to change it’s name into TripTrace, after being threatened by Facebook.
Even though this actions could be condemnable at first sight, we must acknowledge the name frenzy that Facebook has started, giving birth to sites using the Facebook format in their names, from adult oriented sites to travel sites. This multitude of companies named so that they resemble in some manner with Facebook makes the trademark understandable.
One thing is certain in this story, Facebook is getting closer by the day in obtaining the much desired trademark, thanks to the notice of allowance received from USPTO.