Companies claim that Facebook copied Meta’s name and logo


On the 28th, Facebook announced that the group that brings together all its brands, such as WhatsApp, Instagram and the social network Facebook, is now called Meta.

The name refers to the metaverse that its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, wants to build, a network with avatars, accessed by augmented reality devices, that mixes the physical and virtual worlds.

The concept of metaverse is not new —it first appeared in the 1992 book “Snow Crash”—but the word meta, which derives from the Greek, is even more common, and is present in the names of several companies. In Portuguese, it means, among other things, the “objective that is aimed at”.

The American company Meta PCs, which makes computers, claims that it applied for the name to be registered in August and that it could sell it to Facebook if it agrees to pay at least US$ 20 million (R$ 111.9 million).

The case of Meta for computers is not unique. On Instagram itself, the profile @meta belongs to a motorcycle magazine — it was up to Facebook’s Meta to create @wearemeta (we are meta).

In Brazil there are several companies with this name, in different fields. The largest is the digital transformation consultancy Meta, founded in 1990 in Rio Grande do Sul, which has more than 2,500 employees and is present in eight countries.

When the technology giant was announced, the Brazilian Meta made humorous posts on LinkedIn and Instagram about the situation. “We haven’t bought Facebook. Not yet!” says the text on the professional network.

In the comments, people question how the issue of the use of the business’s brand stands. “I think Zuckerberg is going to have some headache or maybe make a new acquisition,” commented one of the profiles that reacted to the text.

Asked if it would take any action regarding the name adopted by Facebook, the Brazilian company Meta stated that it is evaluating and monitoring the scenario.

The same question appears in reports that echo the case of Meta PCs. There are those who think US$ 20 million is little or who do not accept Facebook’s slip of not checking the existence of other companies with the same name.

For Genaro Galli, professor of branding at ESPM (Superior School of Advertising and Marketing), the choice of this name was a stumbling block for the brand, mainly because it is a generic word, which could fit in several sectors.

He explains that creating a business name is part of the creative process of advertising professionals, who will look for a word that can be associated with the product or service being sold. “The way is usually to create an entirely new name, a blank space for the company to create the desired associations in people’s minds,” he says.

After raising these names, a crucial step is to consult, in Brazil, the INPI (National Institute of Industrial Property), to check if that word is not used by another company in the same field. Only after that the name is presented to the business managers for approval. Outside the country, or in the case of companies with global operations, it is necessary to consult the bodies of each nation.

The same goes for symbols that represent a brand. The Zuckerberg Goal symbol looks like a horizontal number eight in blue, also understood to be the infinity symbol. Two companies, Colombian communications consultancy MileniumGroup and German healthcare app M-Sense, spoke out last week, questioning the similarity with the symbols they use and saying it would harm them. In the first one, the symbol was already blue and later became colored, while in the other it is green.

Galli says part of the creative process is looking for images used by businesses in the same industry to see what they use and avoid similarities.

All of this is the traditional way, but “they are not so naive as to not know everything we are talking about”, ponders the professor. “Their power is so great that they go against all these concepts and will stand out from it all,” he says. Other companies may use the name meta, but “Meta is now Facebook,” he says.

According to lawyer Pedro Tinoco, a specialist in intellectual property and business law at Almeida Advogados, in case there are lawsuits against the adoption of the Meta name or the symbol by Facebook, what companies of this size usually do is to prolong the dispute as much as possible.

The possibility of buying other companies that have that name and are feeling aggrieved exists, but it is not usually the path taken by giant businesses, so as not to set a precedent. “When they make a deal, it’s usually wrapped in a super confidentiality clause,” says the lawyer.

But getting into a dispute is possible, says Tinoco. “The costs in themselves do not prevent someone of medium or small size from having a legal dispute with Facebook, the problem is time, people end up giving up, because what these companies do is argue with you forever.”

The lawyer explains that the first step when opening a business, even before starting to sell your service or product, should be to file with the INPI the application for registration of the trademark. The process may take more than a year to complete, but after 20 or 30 days of filing, it is already stated on the institute’s platform that there is a process in progress.

In Brazil, explains Tinoco, the law guarantees whoever made the first registration the right to use the trademark. If it already exists, then the entrepreneur runs the risk of having to change his name, which can damage the business’ image and harm its performance.

Not having the trademark registration is like “building a castle on land that is not yours, the owner arrives and you lose everything”, says Galli.

The national goal made the registration deposit in 1996. Until now, Facebook’s request for registration has not been included in the INPI system, but it may be within the period in which it does not appear for viewing.

Companies can have the same name as long as they do not operate in the same segment, and that the existence of one does not harm the business of the other. When registering his name with the INPI, the entrepreneur chooses the classes to which his company belongs. This makes it possible, for example, to have the Gol car and the Gol airline.

“If every trademark used at some point, in any sector, cannot be registered in another class, the range of names would be limited”, says the lawyer.

This rule works in favor of companies like Facebook. Because it is very well known, a consumer will hardly buy a product from Meta PCs, for example, thinking it is from the new Meta. In this way, Facebook can claim that there is no commitment from the other brand, even if the product category is similar.

“When a large player in a segment launches a new brand, it is very common for some medium and small companies to say that they have registered the brand before and that they want to sell it, but they usually don’t have this possibility of undue association”, says Tinoco.​

Sought by the report, Meta said it would not comment.


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