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Wednesday, August 25,2010

Facebook sues company for using 'book' in its name

By McClatchy-Tribune News Service

CHICAGO — Social networking giant Facebook has sued a Northbrook, Ill.-based Web company for using "book" in its name.

Teachbook.com LLC is a free Web community for teachers that provides tools to manage their classrooms, communicate with parents and share lesson plans and other resources. The site isn't officially active yet, but managing director Greg Shrader said he's planning to launch it soon after Labor Day and believes Facebook's claims of trademark infringement are "wrong on their merits."

"We've been sitting here scratching our heads for the last couple of days," Shrader told the Chicago Tribune. "We're trying to understand how Facebook, a multi-billion dollar company, feels this small enterprise in Chicago is any type of threat."

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. district court in San Jose, Calif., last week, according to a copy of the filing posted on Wired.com, which reported on the legal dispute on Tuesday.

Shrader said Teachbook filed a trademark application about a year ago, and Facebook voiced its opposition during the last half of 2009. There were "ongoing discussions" over use of the name and Shrader believed "we were working constructively with (Facebook)," but is now expecting to file a response to the California-based technology company's lawsuit in court.

According to the filing posted on Wired.com, Facebook said the "book" part of its name is "highly distinctive in the context of online communities and networking websites."

"If others could freely use 'generic plus BOOK' marks for online networking services targeted to that particular generic category of individuals, the suffix BOOK could become a generic term for 'online community/networking services' or 'social networking services,' " Facebook argued in the lawsuit. "That would dilute the distinctiveness of the Facebook Marks."

Shrader compared Facebook's tactics to "bombing a mosquito" and said the term "book" is a natural fit for his website, since it relates to teachers and education.

Facebook was not immediately available for comment.


(c) 2010, Chicago Tribune.

Visit the Chicago Tribune on the Internet at http://www.chicagotribune.com/.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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