x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Shame about the name

What's in a name? Surely a certain social media giant isn't really being harmed by a hair salon that calls itself Facelook.

Shakespeare's Juliet put it poetically when she lamented her lover Romeo's ancestry, proclaiming: "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

But Juliet didn't have to call in a lawyer to determine whether "rose" was the copyrighted and trademarked property of Montague LLC or its arch-rival, the Capulet Corporation.

In the real world, names are big business, and companies are prepared to go to great lengths to protect them. And as The National reported yesterday, Facebook is said to be considering legal action against a Dubai hairdressing salon that brands itself "Facelook" and has a blue and white logo that, from a distance, seems very familiar.

Certainly, there have been cases of businesses appropriating the names and logos of famous global brands that offer the same product or service, and it could be argued that this has been done with the intention to deceive customers.

But is it really likely that anybody will mistake a humble hairdresser's shop in Discovery Gardens for a global social-media behemoth? Even Shakespeare couldn't make a plot that far-fetched seem plausible.