‘Meta’ Trademark Dispute May Cost Zuckerberg $20 Million to Resolve

By Darren Maung | November 9, 2021
Darren is an aspiring writer who wishes to share or create stories to the world and bring humanity together as one. A massive Star Wars nerd and history buff, he finds enjoyable, heart-warming or interesting subjects in any written media.
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LONDON, ENGLAND - OCT. 29: In this photo illustration, three screens display the splash page for the Meta page on the facebook website on Oct. 29, 2021 in London, England. The Facebook company, which owns Facebook, Whatsapp and Instagram, has announced that it is rebranding, changing its name to "Meta". (Image: Leon Neal/Getty Images)

After changing its parent company’s name to “Meta”, Facebook could face a hefty price tag to continue using the name. A small PC company that has been using the trademark for a year prior to Facebook’s rebranding, has raised objections over the use of its name however said that it is willing to end its dispute for US$20 million.

Facebook announced the rebranding at Connect 2021 on Oct.28. The rebranding aimed to bring the company forward by branching out to more fields than just social media. The move was intended to “bring its apps and technologies” together under a more unified banner, including Instagram, WhatsApp, and Oculus.

Zuckerberg said that the “metaverse” is “going to be a big focus, and I think that this is just going to be a big part of the next chapter for the way that the internet evolves after the mobile internet…and I think it’s going to be the next big chapter for our company too…”

Unfortunately for Facebook, its new name has already been trademarked by another company.

While there are other companies that are named “Meta”, custom PC manufacturer Meta PC, based in Arizona, filed to trademark the name in August 2020 after about a year of operations by founders Joe Darger and Zack Shutt, who have already filed the documents needed to trademark their brand.

Meta PC currently sells computers, disk drives, keyboards, and other hardware and devices, offering buyers illuminating and awesome designs to make their user experience shine as they work or play.

The pair told Business Insider, the Patent and Trademark Office website confirms the filing, stating that Meta PC first started using “Meta” for their products in November 2020. However, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative acquired the ownership of the trademark in 2018 on the same site.

While Meta PC has not been officially granted the use of the name, they are said to still have an edge over Facebook should Zuckerberg attempt to claim it for his rebranded company. The company has also posted memes and jokes online in light of the situation, including a video jokingly announcing that Meta PC was rebranding to “Facebook.”

Facebook has claimed that they have online rights to its brand, including the domain meta.com. However, a motorbike magazine in Denver already acquired the @meta handle on Instagram, which is a Facebook property, prompting the magazine to use @wearmeta instead.

Darger and Shutt would have to rebrand themselves should Zuckerberg agree to pay. However, a source from TMZ believes that Facebook thinks they have the necessary rights to use the trademark that could disrupt Darger and Shutt’s plans.

Another company named Meta Company, centered in Chicago, published a long letter on their website that alleged that Facebook’s lawyers contacted them to buy the name. Founder Nate Skulic then claimed that they refused the offer, saying that Facebook made a “low offer that wouldn’t cover” the costs from the name change.

Superunion CEO Jim Prior told Business Insider that Facebook likely spent a good amount of their resources to secure the “Meta” brand, potentially affecting other smaller businesses which need it.

“There are many businesses already in the world with Meta somehow in their name who will be cursing the impact this move may have on them yet who will be powerless to do anything about that,” Prior said.