Does Facebook have special rights to the words "face" and "book"?

Are you looking for something to talk about with your English learners today? Here is a story that will get your students talking!

The word “Facebook” is known throughout the world. The social networking site is worth billions of dollars. It’s no wonder that many startups have tried to copy the concept. Like most companies, Facebook has a trademark on its name.

“Teachbook” is an online community for teachers. In 2010, Facebook filed a lawsuit against Teachbook for starting a company with a similar name.  “Placebook,” a travel site, is another site that Facebook accused of infringing on its trademark. In fact, Facebook has tried to prevent other companies from using “face” or “book” in their names.

Read the article from Mashable.com and discuss the issue. If the article is too difficult for your learners, summarize the main points and discuss.

Discussion Questions:

1. Do you think Facebook has a right to sue Teachbook and other companies that use “book” in their name?
2. Do you think Facebook will win legal battles like these? Why or why not?
4. What does the reporter mean when she says this? “The suit is also likely designed to help Facebook set a legal precedent for future cases.”
5. What is a “David and Goliath dispute”? Can you think of any other examples like this?

While our Something to Talk About suggestions are useful for getting your students gabbing, the topics, articles, and videos can also be used if you are looking for something for your students to blog/Skype/or write an opinion essay about.

Related in the ESL-Library:
Section: Mini-Debates
Famous People: Steve Jobs
Famous People: Bill Gates
Discussion Starters: Social Media
Business in English: Coke vs Pepsi
Living in English: Law and Order

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