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MetaX Wants Its Name Back, And It’s Suing Facebook to Get It



MetaX Wants Its Name Back, And It's Suing Facebook to Get It

Justin “JB” Bolognino, the founder of MetaX LLC, a virtual reality business, was in Las Vegas when he found out that Facebook was changing its parent company’s name to Meta Platforms.

“My phone was just blowing up with text messages, people going, ‘Oh my effing God. What the hell? What the hell? What the hell?'” Bolognino told Entrepreneur over the summer.

So after what documents say was more than eight months of failed negotiations over names and trademarks with Facebook, now owned by Meta Platforms, MetaX filed a lawsuit in the Southern District Court of New York in July.

Related: Virtual Reality Startup MetaX Sues Meta For Rebrand, Says It ‘Stands No Chance Against The Corporate Behemoth’

MetaX has had “Meta” in its name since 2010, his suit claims. MetaX is being represented by Pryor Cashman, a New York-based law firm.

(Meta Platforms did not respond to requests for comment on this story.)

MetaX is one of a few companies with “Meta” in its name that has publicly filed a lawsuit (or spoken out about doing so) over Facebook’s rebranding to Meta Platforms.

Many suits of this type end up settling, but Bolognino has repeatedly implied his goal is much bigger: He wants to push Meta Platforms, a company that brought in $117 billion in revenue in 2021, into reversing its global rebrand — at least for the virtual reality industry.

“We are filing for an injunction, and that technically, that is what that means,” Bolognino said. “It’s not to change their name, it’s to prevent them from using their name in this industry.”

Still, Julie Tolek, a trademark attorney and head of the trademark department at Caldwell Intellectual Property Law (who is not involved in this case) told Entrepreneur that a small company like MetaX winning a trademark suit from a company as large as Meta Platforms would be difficult.

But it appears Bolognino could be attempting to do the impossible — a veritable trademark David vs. Goliath.

What’s in a name?

Bolognino created MetaX in 2010. The company provides marketing, strategy, and production to brands with immersive storytelling elements, such as augmented reality or interactive installations. He said he was inspired to create the company because of his love of live music and seeing digital artists perform.

Related: What Is the Metaverse and Why Is It Important to Entrepreneurs?

“[The company is] about just making sure that we, as a brand, Meta, and also these artists were … getting the recognition, payment, and IP rights that we deserve,” he said.

In its lawsuit, MetaX claims Meta Platforms is working in the same industry with the same clients and providing the same services — such as immersive experiences at Coachella, while Meta Platforms argues, per Bolognino, that it’s in a different industry — one is a “social technology” company and the other a “multi-sensory live experiences” company.

Bolognino heartily disputes that take. Meta Platforms has purchased a host of virtual reality startups (although the FTC tried to stop the years-long buying spree, in the case of one acquisition).

One of the most important concepts in evaluating trademark infringement, though, is the “likelihood for confusion,” per the USPTO. It comes down to whether or not the trademarks have a similar enough name and logo (and belong to a similar enough group of goods or services) that consumers might mix them up.

“You don’t mix up Dove chocolates and Dove soap,” said Shymane Robinson, principal attorney at Chicago-based True Lawyer. (Her company helps entrepreneurs with trademarks and is not involved in the case.)

After reviewing this case, Robinson told Entrepreneur it was a “classic” candidate for “reverse confusion,” which is when the alleged infringer, or later applicant for the trademark, is larger than the smaller company and can overwhelm the market and beat it out due to its lesser size. These cases often depend on how “strong” the mark is of the smaller company that had the trademark first.

You don’t mix up Dove chocolates and Dove soap.

A long list of litigation

Representatives for another company with “Meta” in its name, MetaCompany, a startup that has not yet released any products, told Entrepreneur in late September it had sent cease-and-desist letters to Meta Platforms but was still looking for legal representation to take the company to task for trademark infringement.

MetaCompany claims Meta Platforms had offered to settle but that the amounts were “miserly” and that it does not plan to sell, calling such offers both “paltry” and “blood money.”

Related: All You Need to Know About Using Trademarks for Your Business

Meta Platforms is also looking at a suit filed in early September from a company called Metacapital Management, an investment firm that claims it has been using its mark since 2001, obtained trademarks in 2002, and is asking for damages of $60 million. Metacapital did not respond to a request for comment.

Also reportedly planning on suing Meta, presumably for trademark infringement, is Meta PC, which builds ultra-powerful computer systems well-suited for gaming. The company reportedly said it wanted $20 million for the mark but declined to confirm to Insider. Entrepreneur was not able to find a publicly available concomitant lawsuit nor able to get in touch with the company for comment.

Still, it seems like Meta Platforms is interested in spending some money on some Meta trademark assets. In December 2021, the company bought the trademark assets of Meta Financial Group for a reported $60 million. In November and February Dfinity Foundation, a nonprofit focused on the blockchain, tried to sue Meta Platforms saying that their infinity logos were too similar. Meta won.

David Versus Goliath

Josh Gerben, a trademark attorney and founder and managing partner of Gerben Intellectual Property told Entrepreneur that Meta has been playing “three-dimensional chess” with its efforts to buy up trademarks assets, particularly ones with early filing dates.

Per a search in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS), Meta Platforms has filed hundreds of trademark applications for “Meta” and related marks.

One trademark registration that Meta Platforms acquired has a “first use” date of September 1996 for the name “METAVR.”

Entrepreneur reviewed approximately 120 TESS applications for “Meta” and Meta marks owned by Meta Platforms. We were also able to locate at least one transfer of 28 trademarks to Meta Platforms from another company.

“[Meta Platforms] went out and they acquired other trademarks that had priority dates in them, as far back as they could reach years before Facebook decided to change the name,” Gerben said.

Generally speaking, as far as trademark applications go, if you get there first, you’ll have “priority,” and people who come after you would be subject to your claims, Gerben said, but buying trademarks with earlier priority dates “is an extreme step.”

“This, to me, very clearly, was probably [a Meta Platforms] marketing decision, and legal is trying to build around it,” he added.

Meta Platforms also filed a trademark application for “Meta” on Oct. 28, 2021, the same day the company announced its global rebrand, giving them a trademark on the new Meta infinity logo and name in realms from computer software to crypto tokens.

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a charitable organization established and owned by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan, also owned a “Meta” trademark (filed in 2015) for business administration and advertising. However, Meta Platforms has since purchased it, per a review of the trademark’s status on the TESS.

Bolognino’s company, MetaX, has a trademark application filing date of January 2016 with a “first use in commerce” date of May 2015 for “events using digital, virtual, and augmented reality.”

Still, in order for a trademark to stay valid, a company also has to prove that they’ve been using the mark continuously (or paused with an intent to resume) since the priority date or commerce date, whichever is earliest.

The attorney listed on many of Meta’s trademark applications that Entrepreneur reviewed was Anthony J. Malutta of Kilpatrick Townsend. He did not respond to our request for comment.

Does MetaX have a shot?

Tolek said it takes “sheer balls” to take on a company like Facebook and that normally, she wouldn’t have much hope for this type of case. But she points to the recent story of Happy Belly Bakes, a small company in India, which won a four-year trademark battle with Amazon to stop it from using the mark in India over “reverse confusion.”

“I think if a small company like that can do it, theoretically, MetaX can do it,” she said.

Tolek further agreed that the company’s trademark strategy has been unusual. There are applications for things like medical masks trademarked for Meta, which may just have been an attempt to “squat” on the Meta name, she posits.

Gerben said Bolognino may have a case, but trademark litigation is notoriously expensive.

To settle or not to settle

Despite the questions over priority dates and Bolognino’s zeal, Gerben posits that Meta Platforms actually losing to MetaX is “highly unlikely.”

If MetaX settled, it could look like licensing, a payout for MetaX, or even an agreement to coexist, Tolek said. But Bolognino indicated he doesn’t want to settle.

“What we really want more than anything else is for them to be held accountable,” Bolognino said. MetaX also does not want a licensing deal because “the damage is done,” he added.

When asked if a hypothetical billion dollars would make them reconsider and let Meta Platforms keep using the mark in virtual reality, MetaX’s attorney, Nicholas Saady, declined to answer.

“You know what’s cooler than a billion dollars, though?” Bolognino said. “Integrity.”

MetaX did not respond to several of Entrepreneur’s follow-up requests for comment.

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Christian family goes in hiding after being cleared of blasphemy



Christian family goes in hiding after being cleared of blasphemy

LAHORE, Pakistan — A court in Pakistan granted bail to a Christian falsely charged with blasphemy, but he and his family have separated and gone into hiding amid threats to their lives, sources said.

Haroon Shahzad (right) with attorney Aneeqa Maria. | The Voice Society/Morning Star News

Haroon Shahzad, 45, was released from Sargodha District Jail on Nov. 15, said his attorney, Aneeqa Maria. Shahzad was charged with blasphemy on June 30 after posting Bible verses on Facebook that infuriated Muslims, causing dozens of Christian families in Chak 49 Shumaali, near Sargodha in Punjab Province, to flee their homes.

Lahore High Court Judge Ali Baqir Najfi granted bail on Nov. 6, but the decision and his release on Nov. 15 were not made public until now due to security fears for his life, Maria said.

Shahzad told Morning Star News by telephone from an undisclosed location that the false accusation has changed his family’s lives forever.

“My family has been on the run from the time I was implicated in this false charge and arrested by the police under mob pressure,” Shahzad told Morning Star News. “My eldest daughter had just started her second year in college, but it’s been more than four months now that she hasn’t been able to return to her institution. My other children are also unable to resume their education as my family is compelled to change their location after 15-20 days as a security precaution.”

Though he was not tortured during incarceration, he said, the pain of being away from his family and thinking about their well-being and safety gave him countless sleepless nights.

“All of this is due to the fact that the complainant, Imran Ladhar, has widely shared my photo on social media and declared me liable for death for alleged blasphemy,” he said in a choked voice. “As soon as Ladhar heard about my bail, he and his accomplices started gathering people in the village and incited them against me and my family. He’s trying his best to ensure that we are never able to go back to the village.”

Shahzad has met with his family only once since his release on bail, and they are unable to return to their village in the foreseeable future, he said.

“We are not together,” he told Morning Star News. “They are living at a relative’s house while I’m taking refuge elsewhere. I don’t know when this agonizing situation will come to an end.”

The Christian said the complainant, said to be a member of Islamist extremist party Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan and also allegedly connected with banned terrorist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, filed the charge because of a grudge. Shahzad said he and his family had obtained valuable government land and allotted it for construction of a church building, and Ladhar and others had filed multiple cases against the allotment and lost all of them after a four-year legal battle.

“Another probable reason for Ladhar’s jealousy could be that we were financially better off than most Christian families of the village,” he said. “I was running a successful paint business in Sargodha city, but that too has shut down due to this case.”

Regarding the social media post, Shahzad said he had no intention of hurting Muslim sentiments by sharing the biblical verse on his Facebook page.

“I posted the verse a week before Eid Al Adha [Feast of the Sacrifice] but I had no idea that it would be used to target me and my family,” he said. “In fact, when I came to know that Ladhar was provoking the villagers against me, I deleted the post and decided to meet the village elders to explain my position.”

The village elders were already influenced by Ladhar and refused to listen to him, Shahzad said.

“I was left with no option but to flee the village when I heard that Ladhar was amassing a mob to attack me,” he said.

Shahzad pleaded with government authorities for justice, saying he should not be punished for sharing a verse from the Bible that in no way constituted blasphemy.

Similar to other cases

Shahzad’s attorney, Maria, told Morning Star News that events in Shahzad’s case were similar to other blasphemy cases filed against Christians.

“Defective investigation, mala fide on the part of the police and complainant, violent protests against the accused persons and threats to them and their families, forcing their displacement from their ancestral areas, have become hallmarks of all blasphemy allegations in Pakistan,” said Maria, head of The Voice Society, a Christian paralegal organization.

She said that the case filed against Shahzad was gross violation of Section 196 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), which states that police cannot register a case under the Section 295-A blasphemy statute against a private citizen without the approval of the provincial government or federal agencies.

Maria added that Shahzad and his family have continued to suffer even though there was no evidence of blasphemy.

“The social stigma attached with a blasphemy accusation will likely have a long-lasting impact on their lives, whereas his accuser, Imran Ladhar, would not have to face any consequence of his false accusation,” she said.

The judge who granted bail noted that Shahzad was charged with blasphemy under Section 295-A, which is a non-cognizable offense, and Section 298, which is bailable. The judge also noted that police had not submitted the forensic report of Shahzad’s cell phone and said evidence was required to prove that the social media was blasphemous, according to Maria.

Bail was set at 100,000 Pakistani rupees (US $350) and two personal sureties, and the judge ordered police to further investigate, she said.

Shahzad, a paint contractor, on June 29 posted on his Facebook page 1 Cor. 10:18-21 regarding food sacrificed to idols, as Muslims were beginning the four-day festival of Eid al-Adha, which involves slaughtering an animal and sharing the meat.

A Muslim villager took a screenshot of the post, sent it to local social media groups and accused Shahzad of likening Muslims to pagans and disrespecting the Abrahamic tradition of animal sacrifice.

Though Shahzad made no comment in the post, inflammatory or otherwise, the situation became tense after Friday prayers when announcements were made from mosque loudspeakers telling people to gather for a protest, family sources previously told Morning Star News.

Fearing violence as mobs grew in the village, most Christian families fled their homes, leaving everything behind.

In a bid to restore order, the police registered a case against Shahzad under Sections 295-A and 298. Section 295-A relates to “deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs” and is punishable with imprisonment of up to 10 years and fine, or both. Section 298 prescribes up to one year in prison and a fine, or both, for hurting religious sentiments.

Pakistan ranked seventh on Open Doors’ 2023 World Watch List of the most difficult places to be a Christian, up from eighth the previous year.

Morning Star News is the only independent news service focusing exclusively on the persecution of Christians. The nonprofit’s mission is to provide complete, reliable, even-handed news in order to empower those in the free world to help persecuted Christians, and to encourage persecuted Christians by informing them that they are not alone in their suffering.

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Individual + Team Stats: Hornets vs. Timberwolves



CHARLOTTE HORNETS MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES You can follow us for future coverage by liking us on Facebook & following us on X: Facebook – All Hornets X – …

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What went wrong with ‘the Metaverse’? An insider’s postmortem



What went wrong with 'the Metaverse'? An insider's postmortem

It’s now two years since Facebook changed its name to Meta, ushering in a brief but blazing enthusiasm over “the Metaverse”, a concept from science fiction that suddenly seemed to be the next inevitable leap in technology. For most people in tech, however, the term has since lost its luster, seemingly supplanted by any product with “artificial intelligence” attached to its description. 

But the true story of the Metaverse’s rise and fall in public awareness is much more complicated and interesting than simply being the short life cycle of a buzzword — it also reflects a collective failure of both imagination and understanding.  


The forgotten novel

Ironically, many tech reporters discounted or even ignored the profound influence of Snow Crash on actual working technologists. The founders of Roblox and Epic (creator of Fortnite) among many other developers were directly inspired by the novel. Despite that, Neal Stephenson’s classic cyberpunk tale has often been depicted as if it were an obscure dystopian tome which merely coined the term. As opposed to what it actually did: describe the concept with a biblical specificity that thousands of developers have referenced in their virtual world projects — many of which have already become extremely popular.


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Snow Crash.

You can see this lack of clarity in many of the mass tech headlines attempting to describe the Metaverse in the wake of Facebook’s name change: 

In a widely shared “obituary” to the Metaverse, Business Insider’s Ed Zitron even compounded the confusion still further by inexplicably misattributing the concept to TRON, the original Disney movie from the 80s.

Had the media referenced Snow Crash far more accurately when the buzz began, they’d come away with a much better understanding of why so many technologists are excited by the Metaverse concept — and realize its early incarnation is already gaining strong user traction.  

Because in the book, the Metaverse is a vast, immersive virtual world that’s simultaneously accessible by millions of people through highly customizable avatars and powerful experience creation tools that are integrated with the offline world through its virtual economy and external technology. In other words, it’s more or less like Roblox and Fortnite — platforms with many tens of millions of active users. 

But then again, the tech media can’t be fully blamed for following Mark Zuckerberg’s lead.

Rather than create a vision for its Metaverse iterating on already successful platforms — Roblox’s 2020 IPO filing even describes itself as the metaverse — Meta’s executive leadership cobbled together a mishmash of disparate products. Most of which, such as remotely working in VR headsets, remain far from proven. According to an internal Blind survey, a majority of Zuckerberg’s own employees say he has not adequately explained what he means by the Metaverse even to them.

Grievous of all, Zuckerberg and his CTO Andrew Bosworth promoted a conception of the Metaverse in which the Quest headset was central. To do so, they had to overlook compelling evidence — raised by senior Microsoft researcher danah boyd at the time of the company acquiring Oculus in 2014 — that females have a high propensity to get nauseous using VR.

Meta Quest 3 comes out on October 10 for $500.
Meta Quest 3.

Contacted in late 2022 while writing Making a Metaverse That Matters, danah told me no one at Oculus or Meta followed up with her about the research questions she raised. Over the years, I have asked several senior Meta staffers (past and present) about this and have yet to receive an adequate reply. Unsurprisingly, Meta’s Quest 2 VR headset has an estimated install base of only about 20 million units, significantly smaller than the customer count of leading video game consoles. A product that tends to make half the population puke is not exactly destined for the mass market — let alone a reliable base for building the Metaverse. 

Ironically, Neal Stephenson himself has frequently insisted that virtual reality is absolutely not a prerequisite for the Metaverse, since flat screens display immersive virtual worlds just fine. But here again, the tech media instead ratified Meta’s flawed VR-centric vision by constantly illustrating articles about the Metaverse with photos of people happily donning headsets to access it — inadvertently setting up a straw man destined to soon go ablaze.

Duct-taped to yet another buzzword

Further sealing the Metaverse hype wave’s fate, it crested around the same time that Web3 and crypto were still enjoying their own euphoria period. This inevitably spawned the “cryptoverse” with platforms like Decentraland and The Sandbox. When the crypto crash came, it was easy to assume the Metaverse was also part of that fall.

But the cryptoverse platforms failed in the same way that other crypto schemes have gone awry: By offering a virtual world as a speculative opportunity, it primarily attracted crypto speculators, not virtual world enthusiasts. By October of 2022, Decentraland was only tracking 7,000 daily active users, game industry analyst Lars Doucet informed me

“Everybody who is still playing is basically just playing poker,” as Lars put it. “This seems to be a kind of recurring trend in dead-end crypto projects. Kind of an eerie rhyme with left-behind American cities where drugs come in and anyone who is left is strung out at a slot machine parlor or liquor store.”

All this occurred as the rise of generative AI birthed another, shinier buzzword — one that people not well-versed in immersive virtual worlds could better understand.

But as “the Metaverse” receded as a hype totem, a hilarious thing happened: Actual metaverse platforms continued growing. Roblox now counts over 300 million monthly active users, making its population nearly the size of the entire United States; Fortnite had its best usage day in 6 years. Meta continues plodding along but seems to finally be learning from its mistakes — for instance, launching a mobile version of its metaverse platform Horizon Worlds.  

Roblox leads the rise of user-generated content.

Into this mix, a new wave of metaverse platforms is preparing to launch, refreshingly led by seasoned, successful game developers: Raph Koster with Playable Worlds, Jenova Chen with his early, successful forays into metaverse experiences, and Everywhere, a metaverse platform lead developed by a veteran of the Grand Theft Auto franchise.

At some point, everyone in tech who co-signed the “death” of the Metaverse may notice this sustained growth. By then however, the term may no longer require much usage, just as the term “information superhighway” fell away as broadband Internet went mainstream.  

Wagner James Au is author of Making a Metaverse That Matters: From Snow Crash & Second Life to A Virtual World Worth Fighting For 

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