Give a TOS

by wjw on March 25, 2012

Facebook has altered its Terms of Service (TOS), and now states that merely by using Facebook you now assent to their trademark of the word “book.”

The “book” addition to the user agreement isn’t as strong as a registered trademark or copyright, but provides extra protection, says intellectual property attorney Denis Ticak of Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff LLP in Cleveland, Ohio. The difference is that instead of extending to anyone who infringes upon the trademark, the user agreement covers only people who actually use Facebook—which, of course, is a substantial percentage of the population of Earth.

It’s typical of dotcoms to make sweeping, not to mention insane, assertions of what they own or control— as for example, when Wired itself claimed to own the word “hardwired.”  This shifts the burden of legal expense to others, who have to prove that they don’t own what they claim to own.

(At least Google made up their damn name.  And no, the word you’re thinking of is “googol.”)

So is Facebook evil?

It’s an omnipresent Internet company!

I mean, duh.

Ken Houghton March 25, 2012 at 4:58 pm

“At least Google made up their damn name.”

Uh, I’ll give you odds of 1 followed by 100 zeros to one that isn’t true.

Nathan March 25, 2012 at 5:04 pm

At a guess he wasn’t saying they literally invented the word, but pointing out that while Facebook started out as, well, an online facebook — a compilation/directory putting faces to names for university students — Google took a fairly uncommon word (googol), used mainly as a novelty factoid for children, and associated it with a different concept to spectacular results.

wjw March 25, 2012 at 9:16 pm

Ken, as Nathan pointed out, the word you’re thinking of is “Googol.”

The thing is, Facebook could not literally get a registered trademark on “book.” Instead, they just assert that they own it, and will sue anyone who says they don’t.

Anyone willing to match Facebook’s lawyers dollar-for-dollar will, of course, prove them wrong.

TC/Writer Underground March 26, 2012 at 4:48 am

Almost nothing about Facebook gives me a warm fuzzy; you only have to read the transcripts of Zuckerberg’s chats from way back to get a sense of his “heightened” morality.

DensityDuck March 26, 2012 at 7:05 pm

It doesn’t actually take all that much Expensive Lawyering Money to show that Facebook doesn’t actually own the trademark on any use of the word “book”. It doesn’t take any more money than it costs to file a motion to dismiss, in fact, and you don’t even have to appear before the court to do that.

Note that if you are specifically intending your particular use of “book” to mimic the term “Facebook”, then that’s different.

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