The world’s biggest social networking website, Facebook, is acting as if it “owns the internet” according to the founder of a Chicago educational startup, Teachbook, which is the latest target in a campaign by the Silicon Valley empire to prevent outsiders from cashing in on its success.
With just two employees and a few dozen registered users, Teachbook is intended as a “productivity suite” allowing educational professionals to share lesson plans, homework assignments and coursework. It barely registers in the online universe — but it has attracted a federal court lawsuit from the empire founded by Mark Zuckerberg, which argues that the suffix “book” should be its exclusive domain.
A complaint filed by Facebook in California accuses Teachbook of “riding on the coat-tails of the fame and enormous goodwill of the Facebook trademark” and demands that it change its name.
“They seem to think they own the internet and the word ‘book’,” said Teachbook’s founder, Greg Shrader. “We think they’re wrong on the merits of the case.
“How can this tiny little company in Northfield, Illinois be a threat to a multibillion-dollar social networking site?” The altercation, which Shrader views as the heavy-handed behaviour of a multinational, is the latest aggressive effort by Facebook to protect its reputation. The company, valued at an estimated $33bn, has already forced other sites, including a travel startup called Placebook, to change their names.
Facebook recently mounted a rebuttal against a soon-to-be-released Hollywood film, The Social Network, that depicts it as a product of a series of betrayals among university friends. Facebook has described the movie, which stars Jesse Eisenberg as a party-loving Zuckerberg, as “fiction”.
Experts say Facebook’s efforts to protect the word “book” would face an uphill battle if they ever came to trial — but smaller rivals are unlikely to battle that far. Tania Clark, trademark partner at the intellectual property law firm Withers & Rogers, said: “I believe it will have difficulty enforcing this trademark here, yet 90 per cent of cases like this never make it to the courts as the smaller company caves in.”
In a statement, Facebook said it would not tolerate outsiders cashing in on its brand. A spokesman said Facebook had no dispute with alternative uses of the word “book” and had never objected to many other websites, such as the used car site Kelly Blue Book.
“However, there is already a well-known online network of people with ‘book’ in its name,” said Facebook’s spokesman. “Of course the Teachbook folks are free to create an online network for teachers or whomever they like, and we wish them well in that endeavour. What they are not free to do is trade on our name or dilute our brand while doing so.”
Source: The Hindu 27th August, 2010.
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The Union Law Minister, M. Veerappa Moily, on Friday launched a scheme to improve the skills of young advocates belonging to economically and socially weaker sections, working at the grass- roots level of magistrate and munsif courts.Named after the former Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, the scheme would offer advocates an opportunity to undergo a month-long training programme in top law institutes and another month of training under senior lawyers attached to High Courts.The curriculum in the law institutes would cover issues ranging from the nuances of the alternative dispute resolution system, plea bargaining, intellectual property laws, cyber laws, to legislation such as the Domestic Violence Act, the Protection of Child Rights Act, the Dowry Prohibition Act and the Gram Nyayalaya Act.They would also be taught the art of cross-examination, presenting and arguing cases, besides gaining knowledge of usingmodern tools of information technology and communication.To begin with, the training would be conducted at the National Law University, Delhi. It would be later extended to other law universities, law faculties and top law colleges in different parts of the country.Each institute would be required to train batches of 50 advocates, from different States. The training would be imparted when the courts are on vacation. In other words, in a year, each institute would have four sessions and train 200 advocates.The students would be selected by committees headed by a sitting Judge of the High Court in each State. The panels would have as members Additional/Assistant Solicitor-General of India attached to the respective High Courts, the Chairman of the State Bar Council, and the Advocate-General of the State. The Chairman would be nominated by the High Court Chief Justice.A committee, headed by the Union Law Minister would administer the scheme. The Law Secretary would be the Secretary of the panel.The Law Secretary would also nominate an officer, not below the rank of Joint Secretary, to monitor the scheme. The officer would submit a report at the end of every training session. Candidates selected for the scheme should be below the age of 30, have a monthly income of less than Rs. 6,000 and should be ready to lend his services for legal aid programme under the District Legal Aid Authority. Preference would be given to women, the physically handicapped and those belonging to the Scheduled Castes, the Schedule Tribes, or Other Backward Classes.To begin with the Law Ministry would bear the entire cost of the project; additional options of self-financing by the candidates and introduction of a public-private partnership models were also being explored, Mr. Moily said.Discussions are on with the Social Justice and Empowerment Minister, Mukul Wasnik on the possibility of a joint sponsorship of at least a part of the programme. Vice-Chancellor of National Law University, Delhi, Ranbir Singh, said the first batch of advocates could receive training in October.Source: Sunderarajan, The Hindu, 21/08/2010
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