Meta Platforms has just been landed with a trademark lawsuit by another company MetaX LLC (opens in new tab), which also happens to be in the VR business. Apparently, MetaX has been known as Meta since 2010 and even had talks with Facebook back in 2017 over a potential partnership.
I have a feeling this one’s going to get spicy, so stick with me because it’s about to get real confusing with all the naming stuff.
The original MetaX company specialises in the “Art of Being There.” It has been operating under the Meta name since 2010 creating immersive installation experiences that “engage audiences for the world’s leading Artists, Brands, and Productions.” Meta Platforms, on the other hand, only changed its name from Facebook to Meta on October 28, 2021.
MetaX (the original Meta) recently told Manhattan federal court that its “ability to operate as Meta has been eviscerated” since Meta Platforms’ adoption of the name. The company has been “crushed by Facebook’s flagrant, unlawful conduct” and MetaX is calling for a cease and desist so it can get back to being the real Meta, before Zuck and Co decided to muscle in on its turf (thanks Reuters (opens in new tab)).
In a public statement on the company’s site, MetaX passionately explains “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.”
“Today, we take a stand for the future of our industry—to ensure that intellectual property rights are recognized, protected, and respected.”
Facebook’s unreasonableness and arrogance, has forced Meta to commence this action to vindicate its rights.
Apparently, Meta Platforms and MetaX have been in quiet discussions over the Facebook name change for some time, but “Facebook’s unreasonableness and arrogance, has forced Meta to commence this action to vindicate its rights.”
As well, the lawsuit talks of a previous partnership between MetaX and Facebook, that MetaX says came about after a Facebook exec attended one of its immersive experiences, and praised the company’s VR installation as “spectacular” and “AMAZING [sic.].”
Evidently, the original Meta’s spectacular work planted some seeds in Zuck’s mind, and whether Facebook meant to or not, the company’s rebrand has understandably cost MetaX dearly. (Gosh, that sentence hurt my brain.)
“This case is about Facebook taking accountability for its actions,” says MetaX’s official statement, “and committing to move forward ethically and equitably in the revolutionary industry that we have all, together, created.”
A campaign net has sprung up to spread awareness of the original Meta’s plight, #therealmeta (opens in new tab) tag is heading a bunch of Twitter posts, and growing in trends. In the Tweets, people are encouraging shares in order to “take down the Zuck.”
According to the full lawsuit PDF (opens in new tab), MetaX claims, “Adding to the egregiousness of Facebook’s infringing conduct, Facebook began to create and conduct other immersive experiences using the same artists Meta previously partnered with—at the same events and venues where Meta previously created and conducted experiences.”
(Image credit: Valve)
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Meta Platforms so far has not responded officially.
At the same time, another company with the name MetaCompany (opens in new tab) has apparently been in talks with Facebook lawyers who “have been hounding us to sell our name to them.” It refused due to Facebook’s low offer allegedly not even covering the cost of a company name change.
Either way, it looks like at least one fierce trademark battle is about to ensue, especially since Meta dedicates substantial resources to the development and protection of its intellectual property. It’s worth keeping an eye out for updates.