Shagbook fights back in trademark battle

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Facebook's in a trademark battle with  Shagbook, a self-styled 'adult dating site' (as opposed to a children's dating site, presumably) in the UK.

Facebook doesn't much like other companies using the word 'book', which it reckons it ought to own. In the past, it's had a pop at education site Teachbook, location-based service provider PlaceBook and joke site Lamebook.

It's even had a go at trademarking the word 'face'.

So it's hardly surprising that Facebook's making an attempt to stop Shagbook, where you can apparently 'hook up with hot UK singles looking for hot casual dating'.

Facebook filed suit against Shagbook in May. But the site's not taking it lying down, and has filed a counterclaim with the US Patent and Trademark Office.

In its filing, Shagbook says that 'Facebook' is a generic term.

"The term was in common use in the English language well before Opposer began using the term in connection with its services. The
term is used generically by many members of the public and by a wide variety of organizations," it reads.

"Because the term 'facebook' was used by many parties descriptively and generically well before Opposer’s date of first use of the term, the term is generic and incapable of trademark protection under the laws of the United States."

In any case, it says, even if the name 'Shagbook' did remind people of Facebook, it's clearly a parody and thus lawful. And because Facebook's often stressed that it isn't a forum for shady hookups, it can't argue that the two companies are engaged in similar business.

Somehow, though, we don't think it'll manage to get Facebook's trademark revoked.