Ryan sent me a link today with a rather unbelievable headline. According to TechCrunch, The US “Patent Office Agrees To Facebook’s ‘Face’ Trademark”. But trademarking a single word has famously been denied many a times before and why should Facebook be any different? Well, it isn’t. Obviously, like all major news outlets, bloggers can sensationalize their titles to get people’s attention and maybe even get them a little worried about the power that some of these massive corporations wield. As it turns out, Facebook does not own the word “face” and won’t anytime soon. The title, however would have you believe that they do. Not unlike this post, TechCrunch’s article doesn’t really get into detail and Alexia only writes 180 some odd words on the subject. You can’t really explain the intricacies of the US Patent and Trademark Office’s decision to accept Facebook’s proposal in 180 words and they know this.
What TechCrunch is really going after is the fact that your ignorance of trademarks and willingness to overreact to a headline will translate to controversy and some activity on their website. It works too; they got a link out of me… In the 19 hours the article has been up, it has received 786 Facebook likes, and more than 1200 retweets. In reality, Facebook is going to have no legal grounds to come after you for using the word “face” and this Trademark will in no way affect your life even in the slightest. What the Trademark does do is grant Facebook the use of the word “face” in electronic and online applications offering social services. If you are trying to brand or market the word “face” for a social networking app and it has nothing to do with the literal definition of face, you might have some issues. Hell, I don’t even know how true that is. They really have played to my ignorance.
One of the few reasonable comments left stated that this is very similar to how Caterpillar trademarked the use of the word “cat” when it comes to construction equipment. nobody else can make a backhoe called a “Cat” but they have no say over things like CatFeeder or lolCats. This hasn’t really ended the world.
Anyways, I’ve nearly doubled the amount of the original article so I’m going to shut up here. Just remember that if you can bring some emotion out of a reader, be it fear, hatred, sadness, or amazement, the odds that you will get a click in and a link back are vastly improved. You don’t even need to have any idea what it is you’re talking about!