When Facebook changed its name to Meta in October, there were a few concerns that the company was planning to dominate the nascent metaverse — but there’s one aggrieved party that’s only now going public.
An installation-art company called META (or Meta.is) announced Tuesday that it will be suing Meta (or Facebook) for trademark violation, alleging that Zuckerberg’s name change violated the smaller company’s established brand.
“On October 28, 2021, Facebook seized our META mark and name, which we put our blood, sweat, and tears into building for over twelve years,” reads a post on the smaller company’s site. “Today, after eight months of trying to negotiate with Facebook in good faith to no avail, we were left with no choice but to file a lawsuit against them.”
“the toxicity that is inextricably linked with Facebook”
(Disclosure: The Verge partnered with Meta.is for a number of art installations at the Panorama Festival in 2016. In order to make this post comprehensible, we’re going to refer to the billion-dollar social media company as Facebook and the smaller augmented-reality company as Meta.is; this is not an endorsement of either side’s legal claims.)
Much of the case hinges on Facebook’s many privacy scandals, which Meta.is argues has made it impossible to share the name. “Meta can no longer provide goods and services under the META mark,” the complaint argues, “because consumers are likely to mistakenly believe that Meta’s goods and services emanate from Facebook and that Meta is associated with the toxicity that is inextricably linked with Facebook.”
Meta.is holds a valid trademark for the name but may still be facing an uphill battle in court, given the broad range of trademark applications Facebook has made since the name change became official — including separate marks for messaging, social networks, and financial services. There are also a number of trademarks claiming the Meta name for non-tech products, including a hard seltzer and manufacturer of prosthetic limbs.
Meta / Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.