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Tis the Season to Get Sued

So….if I start a successful company and part of the company’s name ends up embedded in another word for another company I can sue for that. Facebook are currently suing two different companies, one who has ‘book’ in its title (teachbook) and one with Face in the title. In terms of teachbook, the court papers say that it is riding ‘the coattails of the fame and enormous goodwill of the Facebook trademark.’ They are using their trademark as the cornerstone of the argument.

Techcrunch was the first to report that Facebook was also targeting sites with the word “book” in their names, and is also trying to trademark the word “face,” according to court documents. Obviously Mark Z. isn’t even bothering or attempting the Google idea of ‘not being evil.’

I suspect where the movie producers of the Wall Street 2 movie made their mistake, was not making it about an internet techie with an ego and ambition the size of Mount Everest. Then again the Social Network movie is out soon….

Perhaps we expect more from the new tech leaders, so used to expecting the worst from other industries like the financial sector or Big Oil.

And it isn’t just the new kids on the block. Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, seems to be on the verge of suing everyone from Google to Facebook to Apple. Good luck with that. He is alleging infringement of patents owned by his Interval Research lab. The technology that the patents cover include automatically generated product recommendations and news stories as well as the displaying of information like stock quotes on a Web page. Interesting to note that Microsoft, the company that helped him to create his $13 billion plus fortune, is not one of those being sued.

A sector that is in suing mode isn’t going to be innovative into the longer term. I often wonder whether the higher education sector paranoia about patents isn’t actually slowing down the creation of new companies and innovative new products. I am not saying it isn’t important, but the real key is the ‘doing’ part of the equation.

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