California-based Facebook is accusing Vermont-startup Designbook of trademark infringement, while Designbook is accusing Facebook of bullying. The founders of Designbook filed trademark applications in September 2014 but were informed in March that Facebook plans to challenge them because the names are similar and might be confusing for consumers.
Designbook is named for the design books that engineering students utilize to document their ideas. One of the startup founders explained that a design book is a specific thing for engineers. It is a book for documenting prototypes and keeping track of projects, ideas and inventions. The founders noted that Designbook is nothing like Facebook because the logos, color schemes, fonts and target audiences are different.
Facebook is claiming that the word "book" in the name might be confusing to consumers, who could think that the two entities are related. The Designbook founders, however, believe that this claim is nothing more than corporate bullying and trademark extortion. The governor of Vermont has stepped up to support the startup company and tweeted some of the letter that he wrote to one of the co-founders of Facebook about his concern that the company is unnecessarily bullying and threatening Designbook. He added that the state will not stand for such injustice.
Businesses should be aware of companies that try to infringe upon their trademarks, which are often a valuable asset. If the businesses are contemplating the filing trademark infringement lawsuits as a way to protect and enforce their rights in the trademarks, they might want the advice and counsel of an attorney who has experience in intellectual property matters.
Source: SlashGear, "Facebook challenges Designbook's trademark," Brittany Hillen, June 5, 2015