PlaceBook – Naming Advice!

Posted: July 30, 2010 in Start-ups, The Internet

Dear Friends: I need your help and ask your advice. The product we’ve been building is a new way to approach travel. It’s got a simple interface which looks and works like a book. It’s a little like Myst, if you’re old enough to remember Myst, it has linking books. It has no scroll bars. It’s not quite a game, but it’s really a nice way to deal with information online. Anyway, we all felt that the right name for this product was Place Book. It is a book of places. It is for booking trips. It feels like a book. Your Place Book sits amongst other connected volumes: your Photo Book, Travel Book, Fitness Book, Eco Book and so on… the newest logos we came up with looked like this:

We felt the logo could give it a vaguely international flavor – it was for facilitating travel and exploration, after all. But there’s an issue of whether this name infringes on another companies trademark, and whether it would dilute the value of theirs and/or potentially confuse the public. I have heard the arguments, and I have my opinions; I think this is a cool and unique name and would be distinct – I also feel it is an “apt descriptor” as they say, of what we are.

But I’m too close to this matter, and the product we’re making is for the public –anyone who was reasonably frustrated with researching vacations, and booking trips online. I don’t want this name stuff to get in the way of the product, which is really all that matters.

So I want to know what you think. Should I drop the name? Do you think it infringes on other brand names?  Post or email your comments. I really want to know. Thanks.

  1. Gatlin Brown says:

    How about “Libretto”? Hints at sophistication and elegance. A fun word to say and rolls off the tongue as Photo Libretto, Locale Libretto and Eco Libretto. Its also a fun word to say. -Gatlin

  2. gina says:

    When I first heard the name placebook, I instantly thought it was too similar to facebook to be effective. But now that I see the visual id along with the architecture, I have far less concerns. I think I could go along for the ride, as long as the product is something I couldn’t live without.

  3. Till says:

    If the book-thing is what you are after, just flip it: i.g. BookOfPlaces… it’s a bit like the bible’s books (well, don’t know if that is a benefit).
    And imagine typing the url in your browser (or google) – when “bookof” is there, all of the affiliated sites will be in the list of proposals 😉

  4. Glenda says:

    If PlaceBook doesn’t work out, here’s my suggestion: TripBook.

  5. Rubin says:

    TripBook is nice… but the rhyme is only part of their concern – the “book” is the rest of their concern. They don’t want ANY websites with the term “Book” as a suffix, particularly one that does something social (which we really don’t) although they consider ANYTHING social (emailing, et al) too much. It’s hard, since we ARE a book… but it’s the word they dont’ want us to use…

    And who has money to argue?

    The second problem, of course, is that a good name is great, but being able to get the domain for your great idea is usually impossible or prohibitively expensive. fyi.

    • Deb R says:

      “They don’t want ANY websites with the term “Book” as a suffix, particularly one that does something social (which we really don’t)”

      I really question that they would actually pursue claims against businesses using the term “book” as a suffix. Is their next target all the cook book sites (for example, and (actual physical) books?

      I realize that you don’t have pockets deep enough to fend them off completely, but I think they’re over-reaching in “forbidding” you from using the word book in your name.

      Too bad is already taken… Is Facebook going after them, too?

      • Rubin says:

        Oh, we’ve met with Facebook repeatedly, and they are extraordinarily clear: any webproduct with a “book” suffix is suspect. If it is social, it’s a nonstarter; if it’s a “real” word (ie, scrapbook, cookbook, etc.) that has common use before the advent of Facebook, it’s perhaps okay, but it really would need to be steering clear of offering social-type services. I’ll let those guys fight their own battles.

        But for less common (“new”) compound words like placebook and tastebook and, oh, maybe spacebook, housebook, etc — they will look VERY carefully to make sure it’s not social and not trying to confuse anyone.

        We are not a social network in the least, but couldn’t promise that we’d never have “social” features; and it was particularly irksome that (a) we rhymed and (b) we were a new term. So regardless of the clear situation that we didn’t look like them and weren’t trying to infringe, as well as the very apt way the name described our service, they would litigate to stop us.

        It’s just business. But i think when consumers see and use our site, they’re gonna think that PlaceBook was the exact right name for our offering…

  6. Abey says:

    How about The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy? 🙂

    Only half kidding. If your app is more like a book and less scrollable then *book is definitely part of what should be in it.

  7. Deb R says:

    So then…I guess “PhaceBook” is right out? 😉

  8. Paul Shively says:

    The name is incredibly valuable and has only began to generate the interest it could. So does this mean Facebook has to change their name because it’s too close to Kelley Blue Book (found at and rarely referred to as Kelley)? While I love Facebook and think they’re incredibly intelligent over there, if I owned the name/url Placebook I’d fight a war of publicity… there are lawyers who love publicity and would likely represent you just for that fact… or they’d pay me millions for it?

  9. Abey says:

    My initial reaction was much the same as yours Paul. Fight ’em tooth n nail. Fight ’em on the beaches, fight ’em till the last man, etc.. After counting down to ten though I can see the pragmatism in Rubin’s approach. Litigation, esp for a startup, is a massive expensive distraction. In all probability this was issued by some shyster lawyer who didn’t meet his billing quota for the month.

    But that said, facebook has inadvertently given free publicity! Nothing to be sneezed at. That much saved in marketing $$!! 🙂

    If the name has a real deep connect with the problem it solves then one way would be to retire the name from active use for a while – like say with an alternate like 😉 – then ramp up the app, get some vc money in, and then go after with all guns blazing! hehehe! Take that Darth Zuckerberg, the more you tighten your fingers, the more sites will slip through your fingers! 🙂

    BTW Rubin, your beta invite signup form is broken. In Chrome at least.

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