Facebook frivolously sues start-up Teachbook.com

Posted by Mark Raby

Apparently Facebook thinks it is now so powerful that anyone who uses the word "book" must obviously be infringing on its copyright.

The social networking giant has filed a lawsuit against Teachbook.com, a new online startup aimed at teachers, even though the site hasn't officially launched.

In its filing for the ridiculous lawsuit, Facebook claims that using the word "book" in a website domain name is "highly distinctive in the context of online communities and networking websites."

Teachbook is flummoxed at the action by sue-happy Facebook. "We've been sitting here scratching our heads for the last couple of days," said the new site's director Greg Shrader. "We're trying to understand how Facebook, a multibillion-dollar company, feels this small enterprise in Chicago is any type of threat."

Facebook's highly arrogant claim continues to say, "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."

Admittedly, Teachbook is probably riding the Facebook name to give it some start-up panache. But the word "facebook" isn't even something that Facebook created. It has for years been a generic term for a high school or college directory/yearbook. And when your company's name is the same as a generic word, it's hard to really enforce copyright infringement. It is a bit different than, say, a lawsuit between Lulu and Hulu.

These David vs. Goliath cases usually never work out too well for the Goliaths. If nothing else, it reaffirms Facebook's corporate arrogance persona. It'll probably get settled out of court, which is too bad because I'd love to see a judge actually say that the use of the word "book" is now subject to legal liability.