Facebook's parent firm Meta has been sued by MetaX, a company that produces immersive VR experience, for reportedly "stealing" its name to enter the metaverse scene. According to the lawsuit seen by MARKETING-INTERACTIVE , MetaX alleged that Facebook "brazenly violated fundamental IP rights" to "obliterate a small business". Hence, it is requesting a court order that blocks the social media giant from using "META" for goods and services that overlap with the former's and an unspecified amount of monetary damages.

"Astoundingly, Facebook’s due diligence team ignored Meta’s federal registrations for the META mark that expressly identify services 'using digital, virtual and augmented reality'," MetaX said. The plaintiff said the fact that Facebook "disregarded" its prior rights in the META mark is "staggering" since a Facebook employee attended one of MetaX's immersive experiences in August 2017 and lauded its products and services as "amazing" and "spectacular", even requesting for both parties to collaborate.

"Despite its actual knowledge of MetaX, and apparently believing that it could trample the rights of this small business with impunity, Meta has deployed its almost limitless resources to saturate the marketplace with its infringing META mark. MetaX stands no chance against the corporate Goliath that is Facebook," the lawsuit alleged.

MetaX was founded in 2010 by Justin Bolognino and the company has been using the term "META" as part of a composite mark and has been commonly referred to as "Meta" in trade and commerce. The company has also continuously used META as a standalone mark and adopted a distinctive META logo in trade and commerce. It offers services including live and experiential event planning and management for marketing, branding, promoting, or advertising the goods and services of others.

MetaX also touts itself to offer immersive and social media strategy and marketing consultancy focusing on helping creator-community-focused and other clients create and extend their product and brand strategies by building virally engaging marketing solutions.

Meanwhile, Facebook officially rebranded to Meta last year, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg declaring that the company will be metaverse-first instead of Facebook-first. Shortly after this, the lawsuit stated that MetaX contacted Meta and identified its "infringing conduct". However, Meta was said to have responded by "baselessly asserting" that both companies offered 'drastically different goods and services' - admitting that MetaX offered 'multi-sensory live experiences' whereas it was just a 'social technology company'".

For more than eight months, MetaX said it "acted in good faith", including by offering Meta "thousands of pages of information" proving the former's broad trademark rights and the identical nature of MetaX's and Meta's goods and services. Meta, on the other hand, was said to have doubled down on its efforts to "overwhelm" MetaX in the marketplace.

"Blatantly contradicting its assertions months earlier, Meta is now doing exactly what MetaX has done for more than a decade — including by conducting the same immersive experiences, at the same events and venues, and working with the same creators and same companies," MetaX alleged in the lawsuit.

As a result, MetaX can no longer provide goods and services under the META mark because consumers are likely to mistakenly believe that MetaX's goods and services emanate from Meta and that MetaX is "associated with the toxicity that is inextricably linked with Meta".

This is not the first time Meta has been called out for sharing the same name as other companies. Last year, Malaysian entrepreneur Anthony Cheng highlighted that Meta's name and logo bore resemblance to his company's, Metagroup. Cheng founded the company three years ago.

Metagroup's infinity symbol represents yin and yang while the logo's five colours represent the five elements, Cheng said, adding that they are complementary to each other. He added that the term "meta" represents the origin of the universe, life, and the driving force behind good businesses.

Related articles:
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Facebook reported to rebrand. But will it really help rescue its image?


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