Teachers at HISD schools and across the nation may be facing a bit of bad news this week. No, not that school is starting up, instead, that Teachbook.com (a teacher-specific social networking site), is facing the legal wrath of the Facebook.
The social networking gargantuan has filed a cybersquatting, dilution, false designation, trademark infringement and unfair competition lawsuit against Teachbook, claiming "Teachbook.com LLC rides on the coattails of the fame and enormous goodwill of the Facebook trademark."
With "The Social Network" feature film due out soon, Facebook and its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, surely want to handle this quietly, since no one likes a greedy bully.
As of Aug. 16, the Teachbook site promoted itself as an appropriate alternative to Facebook: "Many schools forbid their teachers to maintain Facebook and MySpace accounts because of the danger that students might learn personal information about their teachers."
This point concerns Hair Balls for two reasons: 1) Do teachers really need another distraction beyond the 30-some hyperactive, hormonal teenagers in their classroom? 2) Who still uses Myspace?
Facebook claims to have 500 million users around the world. Comparatively, when we visited the Teachbook site, there were "39 guests and 1 member online." Stiff competition, indeed.
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Teachbook doesn't allow for any of the Facebook essentials: poking, fan pages or Farmville. But it does enable users to browse lesson plans and education-related videos posted by other users, interact with other teachers in forums and find teacher gatherings in the area. So, pretty much, Facebook and Teachbook are unidentical twins, sharing only the "book" part of the name.
Facebook is asking that the courts require Teachbook.com LLC to "cede its domain name to Facebook, disgorge all the profits derived by the site and pay treble damages."
Hair Balls is going to assume that all 67 (our rough estimate) Teachbook users will be joining Facebook or focusing on their work soon.
You can sort through the court documents in the Courthouse News Service report.