Paper1FiftyThree, the maker of the acclaimed sketchbook app Paper, is not letting up in a battle with Facebook over its brand name and has now filed a trademark application for the word “Paper.”

FiftyThree_Pencil_Graphite_with_PaperTechCrunch first spotted the USPTO filing Tuesday morning and noted that FiftyThree’s existing trademark is for “Paper by FiftyThree.” FiftyThree, which has offices in Seattle and New York, filed for the “Paper” trademark on Jan. 30 — the same day Facebook announced Paper, its own immersive news-reading app.

On Monday, FiftyThree CEO Georg Petschnigg penned a blog post on his company’s website that publicly called on Facebook to reconsider use of the name “Paper” for its new app.

“An app about stories shouldn’t start with someone else’s story,” Petschnigg wrote. “Facebook should stop using our brand name.”

This story is reminiscent of when Microsoft filed for a trademark in 2011 on the word “Charm” related to computer operating systems. The Redmond software giant also found itself in another trademark dispute a decade ago when fighting over Windows vs. Lindows.

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  • Shaila

    This is just ridiculous. Paper is a word that has existed in the English language far before electronics ever came about. Neither of them should be able to trademark it.

    • Anonymous

      Its not about that… these guys have spent a great deal of time and money associating the “Paper App” with theirs. Now a bigger company comes along to steal their thunder. Naming apps is not easy. Marketing them is even tougher. While I doubt these guys will get the trademark, considering the word is simply too common, I do sympathize.

      • not a lawyer

        When you choose a non-trademarkable term like “paper” – you knowingly take the risk that someone else can come in and use that term. It was a business decision. Frankly, it’ll probably benefit their download numbers.

  • Blah

    I love the Paper by Fifty-Three App but this is silly. Trademark basics are if you choose functional words or words that represent physical things with no identifying markers, such as a company name, you cannot protect those names. This is a silly waste of time.

  • Roy Leban

    I understand why FiftyThree wishes that they had a trademark on the word Paper. But wishes don’t make reality and a likely outcome here is that the USPTO denies their application, citing, among other things, the other iOS App named Paper that came out a year before them and is named simply “Paper”, not “Paper by FiftyThree”. Unlike “FiftyThree”, it is also a descriptive term, which makes a trademark even harder to get.

    You can argue whether it’s “nice” for Facebook to do this. Perhaps it’s not, but businesses need to do what’s best for them, not just be nice to other companies. FiftyThree would do exactly the same thing (and, in fact, is doing exactly the same thing by trying to trademark the word despite earlier use).

    FiftyThree chose a very common word for their app name and it’s up to their marketing department to make people associate it with them. They have benefited from the fact that it’s a common word everybody knows, but the downside is that they can’t own it. If they wanted exclusivity for their name, they should have made something up.

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