Well, this gives The Mouse That Roared a whole new meaning, huh?
Social networking giant Facebook, whose site has 500 million active accounts, is suing the fledgling and yet-to-open Teachbook.com, whose 20 signed up members are hoping to access online tools to manage classrooms and share lesson plans, over the use of the suffix ‘book,’ according to the Chicago Tribune.
Facebook is arguing that the suffix has made the site distinctive, and that sites like Teachbook would be unfairly riding Facebook’s coattails by using it. Teachbook managing director Greg Shrader contends—somewhat bewilderdly, according to the Tribune—that a site of its size and scope can’t possibly inflict harm on the Facebook brand.
The irony, of course, is that neither of these is actually a book. But the reality is that if Facebook never existed, Teachbook would be named something else.
I’m not going to begin to guess whether Facebook has a case (OK, I lied, I will guess, and my guess is they probably do), but if I were Shrader and had less than a couple dozen members signed up to my start-up, I’d milk this for all the free publicity it’s worth, and then acquiesce and change the name right before I’m asked to spend any actual money in legal costs. Then maybe I’d reorganize the site so that it also had a weekly news component. I could call it TeachWeek.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.