If Facebook had its way, nothing on Earth would be called a "book" without its explicit permission. Now, Mark Zuckerberg's Big Blue Death Star is setting up for a potential trademark showdown with Anonybook, an Anonymous-themed social network with a familiar name.
Facebook's lawyers have held up a trademark application by the California-based Anonybook, saying they need time to consider a potential opposition. Facebook will likely try to quash Anonybook's trademark quest, given their zeal in pursuing other companies with similar names: Dating site Shagbook, the parody website Lamebook and a porn site, FacebookofSex, have all sparked legal challenges from Facebook in the past. In fact, Facebook recently changed its terms of service to attempt to assert copyright over the very word "book." It's already trademarked "Face".
"We at Anonybook strongly condemn and regret such an action by Facebook, and we consider such official action not only aggressive but frivolous in nature," said Anonybook in a typically overwrought YouTube video (viewable at left). Anonybook, though, is not exactly embodying the Anonymous free culture ethos by trying to trademark the name in the first place.
Facebook had no comment for this story. But from a competitive standpoint, Zuckerberg's shop doesn't really have to worry about Anonybook. Last week, the network accidentally sent us a picture of someone's boobs instead of a press release.
So far, their product is about as successful as their PR campaign. As a social network, Anonybook aims to be the janky MySpace for fans and members of the hacktivist collective Anonymous. It doesn't have users; it has "initiates"—and barely any of those. Just 300 people have signed up since its November launch. Anonybook's founder, who goes by "V," communicates to the world behind a Guy Fawkes mask in cheesy YouTube videos that look like cut scenes from a Halo game. Anonybook is a pointless: Anonymous is perfectly happy with Twitter.
In fact, Facebook challenging their trademark would be the best thing that could happen to Anonybook. In January, Anonymous's threats against Facebook generated a huge amount of attention, even though they turned out to be bogus. A real Anonymous-Facebook beef would be better publicity than accidentally sending Gawker a thousand boob pictures—especially if it's Facebook threatening Anonymous.