FiftyThree, Developer Of Established Paper App, Urges Facebook To Change Name Of Its New App

By David Cohen 

PaperWhereIdeasBegin650On the same day that Facebook released Paper, its new iPhone application, New York-based startup FiftyThree posted a statement on its website urging Facebook to change the app’s name, since it launched its own, well-established Paper app in March 2012.

FiftyThree Co-Founder and CEO Georg Petschnigg wrote in the note:

So it came as a surprise when we learned Jan. 30 with everyone else that Facebook was announcing an app with the same name — Paper. Not only were we confused but so were our customers (Twitter) and press (1, 2, 3, 4). Was this the same Paper? Nope. Had FiftyThree been acquired? Definitely not. Then, what’s going on?

We reached out to Facebook about the confusion their app was creating, and they apologized for not contacting us sooner. But an earnest apology should come with a remedy.

There’s a simple fix here. We think Facebook can apply the same degree of thought they put into the app into building a brand name of their own. An app about stories shouldn’t start with someone else’s story. Facebook should stop using our brand name.

On a personal level, we have many ties to Facebook. Many friends, former students, and colleagues are doing good work at Facebook. One of Facebook’s board members is an investor in FiftyThree. We’re a Facebook developer, and Paper supports sharing to Facebook, where close to 500,000 original pages have been shared. Connections run deep.

What will Facebook’s story be? Will they be the corporate giant who bullies their developers? Or be agile, recognize a mistake, and fix it? Is it “Move fast and break things,” or, “Move fast and make things?”

The New York TimesBits blog reported that the top result when searching Google for “paper” is FiftyThree’s Paper app, and Petschnigg told Bits in a phone interview:

We have, in writing, asked Facebook to refrain from using the name, but their response was that they apologized for not letting us know sooner. But as it stands, they are continuing with their launch. We’re keeping all of our options open.

Petschnigg told Bits a trademark for the name “Paper by FiftyThree” was filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office May 11, 2012.

Readers: Should Facebook rename its Paper app?