A startup says it applied to trademark Meta before Facebook - but may be willing to stand down if Mark Zuckerberg pays up
- Facebook may face a trademark battle for its new "Meta" brand.
- A tech retailer called Meta PC filed for it in August and told Insider Facebook's news was a "shock."
Facebook announced last week that it's changing its name to Meta. But the transition might not be without obstacles.
A company is already after the "Meta" trademark - and was well before Facebook rolled out its new moniker.
Arizona-based startup Meta PC founder Zach Shutt told Insider the company filed for the "Meta" trademark in August. The Patent and Trademark Office website confirms the filing, which states that Meta PC first began using the brand for its range of products in November 2020.
Meta PC sells computers, disk drives, keyboards, and other devices.
Facebook, formerly known as Meta,also filed to trademark the name on Oct. 28, according to its filing with the Patents and Trademark Office.
A federal trademark gives a company legal nationwide protection for its brand and helps to identify its goods and services, according to the Patent and Trademark Office. However, it doesn't mean that a company would legally own a particular word and would be able to prevent others from using it.
For example, if Facebook was granted a trademark for Meta, that wouldn't mean the company would own the word - and it couldn't prevent a company outside of its industry from using it. It's unclear if a court would rule that MetaPC and Facebook are in the same wheelhouse though, given their vastly different businesses.
The filings haven't been approved - the filings are still listed as "live" - meaning Meta PC doesn't own the "Meta" brand just yet. Still, it did file its petition a full two months before Facebook announced its rebrand - meaning the tech giant could face a legal battle, even if it's in the form of patent trolling.
Meta PC's end game isn't quite clear. Schutt and cofounder Joe Darger said they're willing to stand down if CEO Mark Zuckerberg pays them $20 million, TMZ reported. However, Schutt declined to confirm the amount, or that it made such a proposal.
Meta PC has been vocal about Facebook's rebrand on its Twitter account, posting memes and other jokes in light of the name change. The company posted a video showing Schutt jokingly announcing that MetaPC is changing its name to "Facebook."
"With the Facebook announcement coming as a shock to us, we figured we'd have some fun with it on our social channels," Schutt told Insider.
-META PCs (@METAPCs) October 28, 2021
Meta, formerly known as Facebook, did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.
Meta has already claimed certain online rights to its brand, including the domain meta.com. However, a Denver-based motorbike magazine already held the @meta handle on Instagram, which Facebook owns. So the company opted for @wearemeta on the platform.
Jim Prior, CEO of brand agency Superunion, told Insider that Facebook likely poured monetary and legal resources into securing the online rights to "Meta," and the rebrand could impact smaller businesses that also depend on the brand.
"There are many businesses already in the world with Meta somehow in their name who will be cursing the impact this move may have on them yet who will be powerless to do anything about that," Prior said.
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