Nearly a decade ago, Microsoft created “Metro” as it was preparing to launch Windows 8 and its Windows Phone 7. It was a modern interface – according to Jacob Miller, a UX designers for Microsoft – that was meant to appeal to “your computer-illiterate little sister, for grandpas who don’t know how to use that computer ‘dofangle’ thingy, and for mom who just wants to look up apple pie recipes.”
The interface was created for casual users. It was more for content consumption and creation than creation. Windows 8.0 was not loved by all users. However, few people ever used the term “Metro”. Mary Jo Foley, ZDNet columnist, reported that Microsoft had problems with the Metro Group in Europe in 2012. The software giant was either unable or unwilling to address the brand issues.
This meant that developers, publishers, device manufacturers, and other parties involved with Windows 8 had to rewrite documentation and apps. Metro could not be mentioned again, much like a book.
Facebook could now be facing a similar dilemma. The social network was looking to make a facelift that would rebrand the company “Meta.”
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The problem is that Meta PC founders filed to trademark “Meta” in August for computers, laptops and tablets. Joe Darger and Zack Shutt, the company founders, said they had been operating Meta PC for less than a year. However, they filed the documents to formally trademark it.
Shutt & Darger appear to have the trademark, although it has yet to be granted.
“Meta PC filed their trademark applications a few months back in Class 9,” Clarissa Harvey Esq., trademark attorney at Digital.com explained via email.
“The application is still under review, but it appears that they are claiming Nov. 1, 2020. Harvey explained that federal trademark registrations are only valid for the specific international classes and the goods or services you pay for in your trademark application. “In addition to the general identification of these classes, the trademark owners also need to describe each product or service they want their trademark to be applied to. Meta PC’s description for goods includes “Computers and laptops and portable computers”, “Tablets, laptops and tablets”, “Networking equipment, software, server components, software, hardware, networking equipment, software and all related accessories. Specifically, keyboards, mice wireless keyboards and mice, speakers and external hard drive backup devices, wireless cards, wireless routers wireless monitors, chairs, and wireless air cards.
It seems that the trademark application was well handled by the duo. The pair stated that they would be happy to give up their brand if Mark Zuckerberg or his company paid them $20 million. They argue that giving up the trademark would mean they have to rebrand their company.
However, they have seen a 5,000% increase in their followers on social media channels. Although it’s unclear what that actually means in dollars, since followers aren’t enough for a company selling PCs to make ends meet, it is certainly free exposure.
This is a replaying of Microsoft’s errors. We might ask how this happened.
“Should Facebook have done better and done more research/due diligence prior to announcing a new brand? Charles King, a Pund-IT technology analyst, stated that in a word, “Yes.” “The fact that another company appears to own the ‘Meta” name/brand makes Facebook’s Meta rollout and Mark Zuckerberg’s awkward demo look like something the company pulled from thin air or a handy orifice.”
The timing could not have been better for the social network.
“Following weeks full of bad news, including Francis Haugen’s testimony to Congress, and The Wall Street Journal‘s publication of embarrassing ‘Facebook File” internal documents, you would think that the company would be walking on eggshells to avoid embarrassment, and/or further controversy,” added King. “Facebook instead is following a course that is likely leave many wondering if Zukerberg’s company has any clue how to plan and implement long-term strategies or diffuse major crises.”