Power of Trademark Search: Key Lessons from Facebook’s Rebranding Fiasco

We have written umpteen times about the importance of conducting a trademark search in the UAE before registering a brand name. Small businesses and startups are the usual suspects in flouting this recommended step that precedes the process of trademark registration. However, recent incidents have proven that big corporate groups also commit the mistake of failing to conduct proper research before registering a company name or brand name. Yes, we are talking about Mark Zuckerberg’s recent attempt to rebrand Facebook’s name as Meta.

Facebook announced the rebranding without conducting a proper trademark search. Now, the company needs to pay millions of dollars to be able to secure the name ‘Meta’. Businesses in Dubai or UAE can also learn key lessons from the Facebook rebranding fiasco. Zuckerberg’s rebranding attempt teaches SMEs and startups about the importance of conducting trademark searches in the UAE.

What Went Wrong with Facebook’s Rebranding Attempt?

Mark Zuckerberg recently announced that he would change his company’s name from Facebook to Meta. However, he faced opposition when he attempted to register the new name in the US. There is another company registered with the name Meta PC. Instead of filing a trademark dispute at the court, Meta PC has said they are ready to give the brand name to Facebook in exchange for a payment of USD 20 million dollars.

The failure to conduct a prior trademark search has led to a delay in the registration process. And if Facebook agrees to a settlement, it will lead to a loss of money as well. Facebook could have avoided this fiasco by simply conducting a trademark search. The failure to invest in trademark search services has led to the delay in the rebranding process. Now let’s move on to the important aspects of trademark search, which will help the businesses avoid potential trademark infringements.

What is a Trademark Search?

Trademark search is not a mandatory requirement in most jurisdictions across the world. Trademark search is not specified as a mandatory requirement in the UAE Trademark Law as well. However, conducting a trademark search in Dubai or the UAE is advisable to ensure that your proposed trademark is not infringing the IP rights of other brand owners. Trademark agents in Dubai search the official database and online resources to check for the existence of any trademarks that bear confusing similarities to your proposed mark.

Conducting trademark registration in the UAE or any part of the world will increase the chances of infringing the IP rights of existing trademark owners. If your proposed trademark is found to be confusingly similar to already registered trademarks, the other parties can raise an objection. It may lead to a delay in registration, rejection or a court dispute. In most cases, the other parties may agree to a settlement expecting monetary compensation from your end. The same thing happened with Facebook in the US.

How to Conduct Trademark Search in the UAE?

Traditionally, trademark agents in Dubai used to conduct trademark searches by visiting the trademark office in person. They used to browse for conflicting trademarks by checking the Official Trademark Gazette. However, from 2018, trademark search services in Dubai, UAE has become more efficient with the introduction of the online portal.

Now, registered trademark agents can carry out the trademark search in Dubai by checking the online trademark register. Normally, the following methods are used to check for the existence of confusingly similar trademarks:

1. Identical Trademark Search

Here, the trademark agents in Dubai will search for registered trademarks that bear visual or phonetic similarities with your proposed trademark.

2. Similar Trademark Search

In this method, the trademark agents will look for registered trademarks that are confusingly similar to your proposed trademark.

3. Trademark Search with Opinion

In this method, the trademark agents in the UAE will include their opinion or recommendation on the search results for similar or identical trademarks identified.

4. Index Search

In the index search method, the trademark agents in Dubai, UAE, will identify companies with identical or similar names.

5. In-use Verification Search

In this method of trademark search in Dubai, the trademark agents or attorneys will identify if a third party is properly using their trademark rights, and such a search opens the door for opposing the registration.

Avoid a Rebranding Fiasco with the Help of Trademark Agents in Dubai

The rebranding disaster faced by Facebook is a lesson for every brand owner across the world. However, Facebook is a big company, and they can afford to pay the money asked by the other parties for a settlement. However, SMEs and startups will never be able to afford such a loss of money and time if faced with a trademark infringement lawsuit in the UAE. The better alternative is to carry out trademark searches in Dubai, UAE, with the help of trademark agents such as Jitendra Intellectual Property (JIP).

JIP is a leading provider of trademark search services in Dubai and the UAE. We have a team of highly qualified trademark consultants who are well-versed in UAE Trademark Law and standard procedures set out by the Trademark Office. We offer services such as trademark registration, trademark renewal, trademark watch services etc. We also offer international trademark registration services in Dubai as per the Madrid protocol starting from December 2021.

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