It's only been one day since Facebook released its new reader app, called Paper, but it has already begun ginning up controversy.
The problem is that there already is an app called Paper. And FiftyThree, the company behind the other app, is none too pleased.
Georg Petschnigg, co-founder and CEO of FiftyThree, has already put out a blog post asking Facebook to change the name of its app. Barring that, however, the company has already decided to take some preemptive legal action.
FiftyThree has decided to trademark the name Paper, according to filing in the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) database. PleaseNote the date on the filing: January 30th. That just happens to be the same date that Facebook first announced that it would be releasing Paper.
FiftyThree really did not waste any time once it found out that it was about to be usurped.
Despite having the same name, the two apps serve completely different purposed.
FiftyThree's app provides users with tools to draw, sketch and outline their own mobile graphics. Facebook's app, on the other hand, is a reader app that displays stories based on themes, which allows users to follow their specific interests.
Its first section is the user's News Feed, which will feature not only stories, but also photos, videos and longer written posts. After that, the user has the ability to customize the app, with over a dozen sections, including photography, sports, food, science and design, to curate news from.
For his part, Petschnigg made clear in his blog post that he has nothing against Facebook; in fact he likes having a relationship with the social network.
"On a personal level we have many ties to Facebook. Many friends, former students and colleagues are doing good work at Facebook. One of Facebook’s board members is an investor in FiftyThree. We’re a Facebook developer, and Paper supports sharing to Facebook where close to 500,000 original pages have been shared. Connections run deep," he wrote.
That being said, he implored them to change the name of their app.
"There’s a simple fix here. We think Facebook can apply the same degree of thought they put into the app into building a brand name of their own. An app about stories shouldn’t start with someone else’s story. Facebook should stop using our brand name," he said.
"What will Facebook’s story be? Will they be the corporate giant who bullies their developers? Or be agile, recognize a mistake, and fix it? Is it 'Move fast and break things' or 'Move fast and make things'?"
The ball is pretty much in Facebook's court now.
Petschnigg says that Facebook has apologized to him for not contacting him sooner, but so far there are no indications that Facebook is ready to budge.
Does the company care so much about the name Paper, on an app that has only been around for around 48 hours, that it will put up a big fight for it?
This filing was first spotted by TechCrunch on Tuesday.
Neither Facebook nor FiftyThree could be reached for further comment. We will update if we learn more.
(Image source: http://news.fiftythree.com)