New Facebook App Provokes Trademark Fight Over “Paper”

By Joseph Mandour on February 21, 2014

Trademark LitigationOrange County – Facebook has ruffled the feathers of design app company FiftyThree, Inc. with its launch of its new standalone social media app called Paper.   Paper by FiftyThree, Inc. issued a statement on its website and also sent a formal letter to Facebook, asking Facebook to stop use of the name.  In response, Facebook has apologized that the makers of the drawing app were not notified earlier, but that it has no plan to discontinue the use of the word Paper from its app.

Officially released after a preview on February 3, the Facebook Paper app has gained fast success.  After a string of misses and badly criticized alterations, the reviews of Facebook’s Paper have been largely successful, with many users citing the ease of use and distraction-free experience that the app provides, combined with its added capacity for creative input by users.  According to its website, Facebook’s Paper takes one’s existing newsfeed and arranges it in a more story-like way, with big pictures, clear descriptions and no ads.

While the Facebook app is currently only available on the Apple App Store, it has been suggested that this new platform will be the first of many as the company attempts to revitalize its user base by allowing for a more interactive experience.  By allowing users to use their imaginations to arrange and customize their comments, posts and pictures in a more narrative way, Facebook seems to be looking to revamp the very way that most people use Facebook on their mobile phones.  Commentators have suggested that the app will soon be available for Android devices, though some have suggested that this version might go by a different name.

Currently, Facebook’s Paper app appears as “Paper-Stories from Facebook” on its Facebook page and on the Apple App Store.  Whether this is an attempt to head off legal trouble with FiftyThree, Inc., we cannot be sure.  One thing that is certain is that FiftyThree appears to be gearing up for a fight, as it just recently filed for trademark protection of the word Paper on its own.  The company already holds a trademark registration for “Paper by FiftyThree”.

In addition to its popular Paper app, FiftyThree also has graphic design apps called “Book” and “Pencil.”  Paper by FiftyThree, Inc. was awarded Apple’s “App of the Year” Award in 2012.

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