It’s the bare-faced impudence of Facebook that takes the breath away. Mark Zuckerberg’s seemingly uncontrollable behemoth, having exerted ownership over “like”, “wall”, “poke” and “quest”, is now seeking to lay claim to the word “book” in Europe. It was reported that “the trademark would apply to any usage of the word ‘book’ in connection with a voluminous range of goods and services, from virtual reality through wireless charging cases to ‘electronic radio components’”.
In the past, the company has taken action against a travel website called Placebook and a porn site called Facebook of Sex (well, I suppose I can understand the latter). While I can appreciate the limits of the claim, it’s the sheer high-handedness of the action that sticks in the craw, as if it assumes people are too stupid to recognise the difference between Zuckerberg’s ubiquitous progeny and another site with the offending four-letter word in its title. Surely Facebook is in enough trouble on other fronts without having to wield such clumsy threats and co-opt such an intrinsic part of the language.
And a big hand to the ever-amusing BBC, which is seeking to appoint a head of creative formats: “We are looking for a senior creative who puts the Wow! into Formats – creating, sharing and developing noise around and about format productions. Ensure that the opportunities and scope of the pipeline are understood, known and amplified so all stakeholders know everything they need to make informed decisions about their focus.” To think that we pay £154.50 a year to employ someone to write such tripe.
Now I’m off to trademark my surname and if I catch any florist flouting the law, I’ll throw the book at them.
•Jonathan Bouquet is an Observer columnist