Facebook threatens Hackney businessmen with legal action

Buskers under threat. Pic: Michael Coghlan

Buskers under threat. Pic: Michael Coghlan

Two Hackney entrepreneurs are facing possible legal action from Facebook for setting up an entertainment website of a similar name.

Jor’el Mitchell and Servais Louis, founders of FaceBUSKS, an online entertainment site that allows people to ‘busk’ to an online community have angered the social networking giant over the use of the word ‘Face,’ a word deemed by Facebook to legally belong to the company.

Louis claims that, after the business secured a ‘lucrative investment’ which could have projected the site to an audience of over 28 different countries in Europe and the US, Facebook contacted them on Monday morning, ordering them to ‘immediately give up their legal rights, stop using the domain name and cease trading’ or face further action. They also warned that they “will use all of the means available to them to contest the registration”.

Mitchell and Louis do not believe they are in breech as their name is classified under ‘entertainment’ while Facebook have only registered the word ‘face’ as a trademark among social networking sites.

“It’s a devastating blow” adds Louis “having worked so hard to ensure that the product was user ready, and considering all the feedback, I cannot understand why such a fantastic and unique idea is being put in jeopardy.”

Louis claims the site is a “mission to shift to paradigm of busking and open the concept up to all people of all passions and across all genres,” and the word ‘face’ is needed to express the “one to one experience that user get” while using the service.

FaceBUSKS, who claim to already be worth over £200 million, said that they felt Facebook were so fearful of competition that they were trying to shut the site down by any means necessary.

The founders are adamant that FaceBUSKS will attempt to fight the prospective legal battle, although they are aware of the massive financial power behind the case, and hope to continue trading under their current name.

Facebook officials did not answer requests for comment.

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