Not just Apple: Facebook may face trademark issues in China

Not just Apple: Facebook may face trademark issues in China

Summary: In addition to all the various obstacles Facebook faces in China, the social networking giant could also have trademark issues in the country, just like Apple has discovered recently.

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Two months ago, Apple lost its iPad trademark in China. Earlier this month, Apple was once again accused of iPad patent infringement in the world's most populous country. If Facebook isn't careful, the social networking giant may have similar problems in China, the world's biggest Internet market by number of users.

Facebook started trademark registration in China back in 2006. The company has already filed multiple applications related to the "Facebook" name, both in English and Chinese, according to the China Trademark Website. In the process, the company has discovered that some of them have already been taken, including the Chinese translation of "Facebook", by domestic users. "We are collecting evidence, hoping to reclaim these trademarks based on Facebook's popularity and social awareness," a Facebook spokesperson told China.org.cn.

Even if it manages to secure all the trademarks it wants in China, the country will still be a serious challenge for Facebook. When Facebook filed for its $5 billion initial public offering (IPO) earlier this month, there were more than just numbers published by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. In fact, China was mentioned nine times in the company's SEC filing.

Here are the relevant references:

  • We would also face competition from companies in China such as Renren, Sina, and Tencent in the event that we are able to access the market in China in the future.
  • For example, access to Facebook has been or is currently restricted in whole or in part in China, Iran, North Korea, and Syria.
  • For example, we continue to evaluate entering China. However, this market has substantial legal and regulatory complexities that have prevented our entry into China to date.
  • In China, where Facebook access is restricted, we have near 0 percent penetration.
  • China is a large potential market for Facebook, but users are generally restricted from accessing Facebook from China. We do not know if we will be able to find an approach to managing content and information that will be acceptable to us and to the Chinese government. It is also possible that governments of one or more other countries may seek to censor content available on our website, restrict access, block our website, or impose other restrictions that may affect the accessibility of Facebook for an extended period of time or indefinitely.

In short, trademarks aren't the biggest issue for Facebook in China. The country's communist government is the real problem.

See also:

Topics: Social Enterprise, Apple, China

Emil Protalinski

About Emil Protalinski

Emil is a freelance journalist writing for CNET and ZDNet. Over the years,
he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, including Ars
Technica, Neowin, and TechSpot.

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7 comments
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  • RE: Not just Apple: Facebook may face trademark issues in China

    I understand that china has so many people and potential users but the chinese much rather prefer to use a "home grown" company than a foreign one. This is why they prefer baidu over google for search results. Plus they already have their own version of facebook which looks just like facebook but with a different name. The chinese don't invent, they steal and then forbid, or make it very hard, for the company they stole the technology from doing business in their country. I would just forget about doing business in china and just use them for their cheap labor.
    lifegiver36
  • RE: Not just Apple: Facebook may face trademark issues in China

    Until China plays fair with patent infringment, software piracy and human rights, they dont have a legal leg to stand on in the world community. What ever product is sent to China to be manufactured, the intellectual asset that was used to create it will be stolen by the Chinese and then claimed to be their own.
    Jaytmoon
    • RE: Not just Apple: Facebook may face trademark issues in China

      @Jaytmoon It's not as simple as them stealing the technology. As I understand it the company having the work done in China has to release the technology to China as well. No wonder there are phone iPhone knockoffs, counterfeit clothing, bags, and so much more there. Most of it is probably made in the same factory as the legit stuff. A cousin of mine whose wife is from China brought home sweat pants for her sun that have the Puma logo on them but the name is Pamu. Pretty funny actually, but a definite rip off.
      boomchuck1
  • RE: Not just Apple: Facebook may face trademark issues in China

    I wouldn't even use them for cheap labor. It's un-American to put U.S. workers out of a job and replace them with workers who live in squalor and are vastly underpaid. Of course, you might like melamine in your cat food.
    hforman@...
  • Wait...You mean there's no honor among thieves?

    China isn't run by a government; it's run by a criminal gang to whom the rule of law is a farcical concept. These are the same people who run execution vans around the country in order to kill dissidents and sell their harvested organs to the international market.

    I don't feel sorry for Apple or any other company that sold their souls to boost profit margins via cheap Chinese labor. What did they expect when they signed a contract with the devil? Whatever you give to a criminal BELONGS to the criminal. That's how such "partnerships" work.

    I've been hearing for nearly 30 years that we [i]need[/i] to send manufacturing, jobs, and technology to China because it would democratize them. How's that working out? We gave them the missile guidance technology to target our cities and they're as hostile as they've ever been. But some people in the West sure made gigantic amounts of money, eh? And that's the [i]only[/i] thing that mattered all along in our plutocracy.
    SgtSpork
  • Why are all the jobs go to china?

    let me answer this simple question once and for all. It's bacause our workers are lazy and greedy.
    To those who said china don't invent, you are no doubt ignorant and need to brush up your history.
    Remember, America is a very very young country compared to china, so, be humble.
    gundam_0083
  • inventions from China

    so sad Americans think China copies and they don't invent brush up on your history a bit it helps. China invented Gunpowder, Paper, Printing. the list is endless
    cmajona@...