Facebook has recently made an attempt to trademark the word face in order to protect its brand from would-be copycats.
This move represents an attempt to trademark not the name of a product -- that also happens to be a common word as well (as companies like Apple have done in the past) -- but only a section of a name, which is not used by itself on any product that the company owns.
The application will not go untested however. Aaron Greenspan, who has previous connections to the social media giant, took swift action, filling a request for an extension of time to file an oppostion with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.
The request has been granted, and will remain in place until September 22.
By that date, Greenspan will have to either file a formal opposition or let the matter drop. Greenspan told me on Friday that he has not yet decided which course of action to take.
Greenspan, who currently owns Think Computer Corporation, holds the trademark to a service called FaceCash, a service that the company's Web site describes as "Using your face as a security token (instead of a receipt signature, as is typical with plastic cards), FaceCash allows you to pay for items, such as food or clothing, at the point of sale with a smartphone or paper, instead of a plastic card."
If this application is successful, this trademark may be the last one with the word face in it.
When asked why he placed the request, Greespan replied, "I filed to protect Think's interests as we do have plans for future products, but the fact that potentially filing also defends a larger principal - that corporations should not be able to arbitrarily assert control of common dictionary words - doesn't hurt."
The application to trademark the word "face" was placed in 2005 by a British company from which Facebook eventually acquired the rights to the application. Greenspan's objection was formally filed in July of this year. The trademark application is being managed by the Washington DC firm of Cooley, Godward, Kronish LLP.
If the decision holds it may also effect a variety of other companies, such Apple, which holds a patent to the patent to FaceTime, a video calling feature for the current operating system version of iPhone.
The decision could also have larger implications for trademark law, should it pass, "Since they've never used the term apart from "book," it seems as though Facebook would be setting a disturbing precedent (in flagrant violation of the Lanham Act)...", Mr. Greenspan explained, "...if the FACE trademark application were granted. I'd expect to see additional litigation from them and other companies in similar financial positions."
Facebook was not available for immediate comment about this matter.
(Image source: Hardwaremania.com)