Meta PCs, an Arizona-based company that sells computers, laptops and software for gamers was an unremarkable retail outfit a week ago. Then on Thursday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced his company would be changing its name to Meta and it found itself in an IP war with tech’s biggest behemoth.
Lucky for Meta PCs, it’s already a few months ahead of Facebook in having the name trademarked. According to a document shared by TMZ, the company filed for its trademark in August, a little over a year after it was started.
Zack Shutt, one of the founders of Meta PCs, told the Guardian that the company was registered in November of last year, and their team was unaware about Facebook’s plans to use “Meta” in any part of its rebranding until last week.
Shutt, along with co-founder Joe Darger, told TMZ they won’t sell the name for less than $20m if Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg tries to get the name. Shutt declined to further comment on this to the Guardian, citing legal concerns.
Facebook did not respond to the Guardian’s request for comments, but someone affiliated with the company told TMZ that they are not too worried and they have the required rights to acquire the name.
Mark P McKenna, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Law, says even though Meta PCs has made an application to trademark its name, there are loopholes that may allow Facebook to acquire the name.
One such measure is filing an application in another country and using that application date to file in the US – a practice often used by big companies.
“They look for a little country without a searchable system and then file there,"Le dijo a The Guardian. “That would be a way for them to have an earlier date.”
He added that trademark registration doesn’t define rights of a company in the US in this regard.
“In the US, rights aren’t created by trademark registration – the rights arise out of use," él dijo.
So it remains to be seen how this tug of war will pan out, especially given Meta PCs would be up against a giant like Facebook. Schutt was unable to share information such as the value of the company, but said they’re a small organization with only 25 empleados.
“We’ve bootstrapped this company with our own personal funds. When we learned Facebook chose the same name, it was obviously a concern that we would lose whatever organic reach we had worked hard to build,” Shutt said, adding that they have “sizable investments” in branded content and influencer marketing in the works.
Despite this looming concern, the company is finding fun ways to acknowledge the situation.
El jueves, Shutt shared a video making a parody announcement similar to the one Zuckerberg made when sharing the new name:
“To reflect who we are and what we hope to build I’m proud to announce that we are now Facebook,” Shutt says in the video.
In another tweet, they photoshopped Zuckerberg holding their product: