Facebook climbdown: ‘Arrogant’ social media giant loses mountaineer battle
The tech giant initiated a complaint about the not-for-profit community site in 2015, arguing that it was too similar in its “structural, visual, phonetic, and conceptual” design, and that the services it offered were “partly similar” to those provided by Facebook, which could confuse users.
The patent office of Italy’s Ministry of Economic Development ruled it is “highly improbable” that users would get mixed up between the two brands and the site could continue to exist under the same name.
Climbook is a site built around the climbing community, launched in 2013 by Italian mountain guide Alessandro Lamberti, according to its Facebook page. It provides details of climbing routes all over the world for free-climbing enthusiasts.
In a statement responding to the Ministry’s decision, the group mused over why a community of climbers without advertising, with a name that ends in ‘book’ disturbed the tech giant.
“Perhaps it was the arrogance of the powerful or perhaps just routine, but the fact is that this time the giant must lower his head and we can keep our CLIMBOOK.”
It deemed the notion that social media users would confuse the word ‘climb’ with ‘face’ as absurd. “That is, dear users and visitors of Climbook, telling us that we are all stoned and we can confuse CLIMB with FACE,” the statement said.
Facebook has launched multiple lawsuits against websites incorporating the word “book” into their names. In 2010 it filed a lawsuit against a teacher’s community website called Teachbook.com, accusing the website of trademark infringement, trademark dilution and unfair competition.
In 2011 Facebook filed a lawsuit against several companies that bought domain names similar to facebook.com. The tech giant called the owners of these domains “typosquatters,” claiming they were examples of trademark infringement.
Among the trademark lawsuits that Facebook won were against domains that included the “Facebook” name, such as FacebookStuff.com and KillFacebook.com.
In 2012, Facebook asserted its trademark of the word ‘book’ in a revised version of its user agreement. “You will not use our copyrights or Trademarks or any confusingly similar marks, except as expressly permitted by our Brand Usage Guidelines or with our prior written permission,” the policy states.