Earlier this week, Vermont startup Designbook revealed that it had been approached by lawyers from social-networking giant Facebook, which is pushing it to change its name. Facebook has filed an opposition to the trademark “Designbook” at the US Patent and Trademark Office.
Yesterday, Designbook got an unexpected powerful ally: the governor of Vermont, Peter Shumlin. Having read about the trademark tiff in news reports, Shumlin wrote a letter (PDF) to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg urging him to leave Designbook alone. “I was very concerned to read about Facebook’s unnecessary bullying of a Vermont startup called Designbook,” wrote Shumlin. The letter continues:
The Vermonters behind this company are the type of people that make me proud to be this state’s Governor. They are young, entrepreneurial, and innovative. Given your background, I am sure you can relate.
The last thing these Vermonters deserve is for a giant corporation to threaten them unnecessarily. We don’t stand for that type of injustice in Vermont. Just ask Chick-fil-A.
I’m sure that the enormous growth and worldwide success of Facebook insulates you from many of the decisions made within the organization. I sincerely hope that is the case here. And I hope you will step in to take action to right this wrong.
The governor’s mention of Chick-fil-A refers to his support of another Vermont company in a trademark dispute. The restaurant chain opposed Vermonter Bo Muller-Moore’s attempt to trademark the phrase “Eat More Kale.” Chick-fil-A opposed that trademark, saying it was too close to its “Eat Mor Chikin” trademark. In December, Moore won out, and Shumlin called it a “victory for grow local… and a victory for Vermont.”
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