In 2021, Facebook rebranded itself as part of a new organization, Meta Platforms Inc., or “Meta.” It is now valued at over $450 billion. It may not be allowed to continue using its new name, however, if the founders of MetaX LLC have their way in court.
When companies choose their names, they are generally prohibited from choosing a name that is already in use or which could be confused with one already in use in that industry. Moreover, many names – including META – are trademarked.
“Astoundingly, Facebook’s due diligence team ignored MetaX’s federal registrations for the META mark that expressly identify services ‘using digital, virtual and augmented reality,” says MetaX.
On top of that, MetaX points out that Meta Platforms knew about MetaX’s existence before it rolled out the new name. In 2017, according to MetaX, senior employees from Meta Platforms praised MetaX in an email.
MetaX, a closely held company founded in 2010, provides consulting, curation and the production of immersive technology events and exhibits. Meta Platforms focuses on the “metaverse,” a virtual universe emphasizing augmented and virtual reality. The two companies are by no means identical, but they are arguably in the same industry. Plus, META is apparently already trademarked.
MetaX has filed a federal trademark infringement lawsuit against Meta Platforms. It claims that, once Facebook introduced the Meta name, MetaX’s ability to operate in the augmented and virtual reality businesses has been obliterated.
The lawsuit seeks all of Meta Platforms’s profits from using the “Meta” name, along with a permanent injunction against Meta Platforms to prevent it from using “Meta” as its name moving forward.
For its part, Meta Platforms claims that the two companies are in “drastically” different industries. The names are not confusing. The companies could continue to operate peacefully.
Can MetaX bring down a titan like Meta Platforms?
It’s possible that MetaX has the better claim to the word “Meta.” If it does, a judge could indeed issue a permanent injunction prohibiting the social media giant from continuing to use the name.
On the other hand, the case might be settled out of court. In such a case, it is likely Meta Platforms would seek to continue using the name in exchange for monetary damages paid to MetaX.
Business litigation is often complex and hard to predict. Whether you hope to settle your dispute or not, it’s crucial to work with an attorney who is fully prepared to go to trial.