Which came first, Paper, or...Paper? Facebook debuted its social media news app, dubbed "Paper," on Monday, much to the chagrin of developers at FiftyThree, who also have an app named Paper.
FiftyThree's Paper is a highly-praised drawing app that came out in March 2012, and won Apple's 2012 iPad App of the Year Award. When Facebook first announced it was developing Paper, it was FiftyThree's app that first came to mind for many people. (Via FiftyThree)
FiftyThree’s CEO Georg Petschnigg said Monday that if the social media giant uses the same name, it would basically amount to bullying.
In the post titled "Every Story Has a Name", he asks Facebook to reconsider, saying, "We think Facebook can apply the same degree of thought they put into the app into building a brand name of their own. An app about stories shouldn't start with someone else’s story."
The Los Angeles Times reports that over the weekend FiftyThree's lawyers sent a letter to Facebook asking it to chose a different name. While the company isn't taking the issue to court just yet, tech analysts are already weighing their chances.
The first thing they point out: just because FiftyThree’s app was out before Facebook’s doesn’t automatically give it a win if this were to go to court. There are plenty of apps on the app store with paper in their name, many of which came out before FiftyThree’s. (Via iTunes)
The fact that FiftyThree trademarked "Paper by FiftyThree" instead of the solitary "Paper" doesn't help either. But there’s hope yet for the app developer.
In an interview with TechCrunch, a trademark lawyer said "It really will come down to how many third-party Paper marks are out there in this industry, and whether or not FiftyThree's mark has been made weaker by other third-party marks."
A writer for 9to5Mac doesn’t think it’s likely that Facebook will opt for the name change, but said, "For me, the two companies have different instances of brand recognition: Facebook is the dominant brand in Facebook Paper, but Paper is the dominant brand in Paper by FiftyThree."
An editor at The New York Times' tech column proposed that "In countering the complaints from FiftyThree, Facebook might point out that its app is primarily about exploration." Though the flip side of that, he says, is that the Facebook app "is also meant for sharing and creating, as FiftyThree’s is."
So far Facebook has made no comment on the situation besides an apology to Petschnigg for not contacting him sooner.