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Facebook demanding 3rd party apps be removed from the Windows Phone Store over trademark claim

With Facebook Beta for Windows Phone 8 (and soon for Windows Phone 7) becoming more mainstream on the platform, one can’t help but notice all of the copycat apps on the Store, causing brand confusion.

One devilish one is literally called “Facebook WP8 beta”, in an obvious attempt to steer naïve people towards their app.

That’s not to say there aren’t some genuine attempts to make a better Facebook app for Windows Phone users, indeed there are several with nothing but good intent by the developer. But at the end of the day, corporations need to protect their brand and with 41 clone apps on the Store competing with their official one, Facebook has evidently had enough.

In a letter obtained by Windows Phone Central, Facebook is now notifying all 41 third-party Facebook app developers (through Microsoft) of claimed infringement of their trademark. Such a move will no doubt force Microsoft to remove those apps from the Store in the coming days and weeks.

While on the one hand even we think 41 clone apps is a bit much and understand how it can cause confusion (try and search for “Facebook” or “Facebook beta” and check for yourself), we can’t help but feel bad for some of the developers who were legitimately trying to make a better app.

What do you think? Is Facebook overreaching here or doing the right thing?

Thanks, Viktor W., for the info

Daniel Rubino
Executive Editor

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

  • Good. All these apps are crap and confuses average consumers and turn them off of the windows phone brand.
  • This
  • as long as the Facebook App from Microsoft isn't one of the "third-party-apps" they want to have removed!
  • The Microsoft App isn't really a 3rd party app, even though it isn't developed directly by Facebook. Simply Facebook outsources its development to Microsoft, and I assume Microsoft develops it for "free".
  • wrong. Microsoft does it because there needs to be a facebook app and facebook simply "allows" them to do it. If WP gains >10% we all can assume facebook will create its own app
    And yes, to facebook, microsofts app is "third-party".
  • Yes but Microsoft does other development for FB including the chat system. Anyway MS can obviously make an exception for themselves.
  • Agreed, please pull these clones
  • Ditto. The clones don't make the Windows Phone platform stronger or give users more capabilities that FB and MS aren't already addressing.
  • Totally agree
  • Revenge of the clones!
  • Being blinded by the dark force, Jedi is.
  • Good. The original fb wasn't bad but it wasn't that bad now..
  • Yeah, what they've changed the FB app to in the beta is what FB should be banning.. I don't care if they ban all the unofficial apps as long as they change the new beta app back to our authentic Metro design!!!!
  • Whatever! The old app was worthless and functioned horrifically. Yeah if they could have made it Useful like everyone else's Facebook app was  then yes I like the the outlay of the Metro look. You get 41 developers making Facebook apps because the public is crying for something better or they are just leaving and going to a platform that does care and think Facebook is important. That old app was killing the legitimacy of the Windows Phone platform. Now the Microsoft has started to begin to give the Windows Phone an even footing on that avenue of social media compared to the giants of Android and iOS. 
  • ya useful in some of the apps, but they all use the same logo of facebook n name of facebook, so that is the main point. ask those who make instagram clone apps to use instagram name n logo and see what will happen. 
  • Good
  • +1
  • Good. Clean up all the crapps. If its a legitimate app, let them appeal the decision and back up their reason as to why their app should exist.
  • I would go along with this process.
  • Ms holds the blame for approving these "crapps" in the first place.
  • I have to agree.  MS should be policing the quality of any app that goes into the store with a name that the public could confuse with a well known "real" app.
    For a consumer checking out a prospective new WP8 phone at an AT&T store, they might check out "Facebook" on the phone.  If someone has downloaded one of these turds, well... it becomes a much harder sale at that point.  Damage to MS' brand is done.  First impressions are damned hard to correct.
  • Well if first impressions were important then that was killing the platform with the old Facebook app that is being currently replaced by the Facebook Beta app.
  • Agreed
  • Concur
  • +1000000000000
  • Facebook is perfectly entitled to ask for the removal of clones that try to profit from a brand they did not create. I just don't get developers that do these types of apps, why bother?
    The same needs to be done with the Windows 8 store, or at least microsoft needs to add some way of distinguishing official from fake/clone apps. Take BBC for example, there are hundreds of apps for it in Win8 store, and there is no way to tell which is official, or even if there is an official one, without clicking on each one and looking at the developer name.
    Microsoft needs to sort this mess in the WP and Win8 stores ASAP.
  • There is no official BBC app, and I believe they told the good 3rd party app to cease and desist...correct me if I'm wrong.
  • True, but that was not my point; the point is that it should be clear for a customer which apps are official and which are not; right now when you search for a BBC app on WP and particularly on Win8 you get a ton of same named same looking results and I am just fed up with all the crap apps that use a name of a service that they do not own.
  • I agree completely...I was just stating that the BBC already told the "best" BBC app to close shop, which sort of stinks if they are not planning to release their own app. It is still their right to do, though. I will say it is tough to distinguish yourself from all of the crap apps (and even the official app) if you try to follow the law and produce your own app that provides access to another service but under a unique "brand". For example, I may never have found Rowi if I wasn't a user of WPC because the search function in WP does not work as it should. Apps should be able to tag themselves as a certain type of app and then it should go by ratings (quality plus number of times rated or some function of those). The system as it stands is not good. I really hope they don't try to get rid of Rudy Huyn's Wikipedia app, though. I think it recently won their app star contest, and it is pretty badass.
  • Hear! Hear!
  • Publisher is the only way to verify. That's how I check.
  • agreed. get rid of the clunk or choose another name/icon and make your app good rather than just loading
  • Yep pull all these other FB clones, as pointed out in the story it only confuses users and can ruin the whole WP experience.
    Although I would hate to see the same happen with Youtube considering no official app.
  • The official Youtube app is pretty amazing now, and that's no "unofficial." its as official as the real Facebook and Facebook Beta is. Microsoft gets permission from the developers (Facebook and google) to push out these applications.
  • Get rid of them.
  • You are absolutly right, most of the clones are the touch website of facebook, which is pretty lame anyway. better take them out of the store for sure, and i say for the devs, all of you are amazing, but childish tries wont lead to creating the next big app that everyone cant stop using, i cant see a better goal for a dev other than a blue ocean App category.
  • THIS.
  • i understand protecting your brand, however, by not even creating the app themselves, it's a little ironic they're doing this eh
  • Well it seems they are now involved directly with making the app so no surprise they don't want copycats.
  • +1
  • They have already authorized Microsoft to use the name "Facebook". 
  • Microsofts Facebook app is the Official Facebook app for WP.. Although they should've just let FB do the app if they are going to ditch Metro, and give us some Android app.. Change it back MS!!!
  • I would say that Facebook is behind the beta app that's why it looks like the others,also lends credence that we will get the other brand instagram soon
  • That's actually a very good point! You're a smart little pickle my friend.. Where does such enlightenment reside?... Where are you from dude?? Lol!
  • Of all the forums I have been a part of this one has the biggest dicks I have ever seen
  • As is with all the official Facebook apps whether they be on iOS or Android - these apps are made by the platform developer on the Facebook campus.
    This is my understanding....
  • I have a feeling Microsoft asked them to request this. So it doesn't make the vole look bad.
  • I agree 41 is a bit much. Why not keep the official fb app and the top rated two apps?
  • This is really Microsoft's failing. When WP first launched, they were desperate to build up their app catalog, and so it was an anything-goes free-for-all. Now that the marketplace is maturing, Microsoft should be the ones pushing back on devs and raising the quality bar on app submissions. It's one thing for an app to be rough around the edges, but I don't think there's anyone out there who wants to see more webpage-wrapper "apps" wasting space in the store.
  • So much for developer love
  • It wasnt Microsofts decision, Facebook wants it. And the 3rd party apps were crap, I wondered how some people could give these crappy apps five stars.
  • By giving them money just for giving false 5-star comments maybe?
  • This is developer love at its best. Facebook wasn't always huge. Angry birds wasn't either. Those devs worked hard and deserve to have their apps protected. Simple as that. Rename the misleading ones and call it a day. MS never should have allowed most of these names to begin with.
  • Its trademark infringement, its kinda a big deal...
  • Hopefully YouTube do the same.
  • This badly needs to be done also. It's just confusing for regular users.
  • Yessss the Youtube shit is ridiculous. But just the ones with the Youtube name, leave Metrotube and myTube be!
  • Please no. I understand the official YouTube app is now a real app, but there are actual quality 3rd party YouTube alls available on the platform. metrotube, for example, is fantastic. There are some bad YouTube apps, but there are legit great ones, as well.
  • They can't remove 3rd party apps. Justs the ones with the same name as the official app for very little different. Such as "YouTube" "YouTube plus" YouTube**" etc.
  • Exactly, the main issue is with misleading app names, not the actual in app functions. Consumers should be able to tell right away an official from a clone/3rd party app.
  • I hope this is true, I really like myTube!
  • Google's already done this awhile ago
  • Just against YouTube-named apps or every 3rd party app for YouTube?
  • good thing...i support this !!
  • Yeh pathetic how Facebook don't even put any effort into WP, why should they care? The 'official' Facebook app and the beta version is made by MS.
  • Wrong, Facebook is involved with the beta app.
  • Had they been involved from the beginning and made a proper app we wouldn't have 41 clones.
  • Stand corrected, and how long did that take to happen.
  • this is excellent, there's so much facebook app crap in the store it's ridiculous, and facebook has every right to do this.  Microsoft should have found a way to do it awhile ago because it makes WP look bad when you search facebook in the app store and an outrageous amount of terrible third party apps show up
  • They have every right, 3rd parties should not be using name or image of any product to sell or promote their products without permission
  • I am perfectly fine with this. Bye Bye Web wrapper scam apps!
  • They should hire the talent behind the best WP Facebook apps to make theirs even better. :)
  • what best WP Facebook apps ?!.
  • +1000
  • Facebook by JDB is awessome.
    Not just a touchclone but it actually works.
  • That Facebook would care enough to target Windows Phone apps shows how far we have come as a platform.
  • good point haha
  • I support this to an extent. The developers that are truly bring a well made app should not be punished but rather narrow it down a bit to a few Facebook alternatives because 41 Facebook apps is alot. I just can't believe it took this long for Facebook to care about WP platform.
  • Facebook doesn't have a problem with their alternatives to the official app, if they wanted to stop those they could just pull API access. The problem is when apps use their trademark: their logo and their name, and try to pass off as official apps. If an average consumer downloads an app called "Facebook WP8" with the blue F logo and then the experience is subpar or worse the app does something bad to the phone or account then the consumer is likely to blame Facebook and not go back to the store to trace back the random responsible developer. Facebook is just trying to protect their brand.
  • Ah I see. Thanks for breaking it down for me.
  • The devs that are really trying to create a real app should understand and be willing to rename their apps to MetroBook or something like that.
  • This is the answer. The legit apps will change their name but still be used if they are quality. The other apps will just be removed and the devs will chalk it up to a failed get rich quick scheme.
  • Personally, I'm surprised Microsoft hasn't been better regulating these apps to begin with.  You can pretty much call your app anything you want.  I'd insist on third party removal also.
  • Let me be the first to say FFB.
  • Out of those 41 + apps maybe 3 or 4 even work,
  • and they are rubbish, I tried all of them, even they paid ones, and I ended up buying a £40 Chinese tablet just because of those apps.
  • To be honest I always wondered how this apps even got released
  • It is not a Facebook move. It is a Microsoft move. Wants to clean the road for the upcoming new version. It's a pitty, a few 3rd party apps were even better than the MS version.
  • I don't think you are right about this one.
  • If Facebook cared, they would have provided an official app. They haven't ever. They even ignore Windows Phone from their "App center", SDK, etc. We don't exist for them, they simply don't care as long as we use Facebook (no matter from which app). This is Microsoft, a new version from them is coming and the road was dirty. 3rd party apps have even more positive reviews/ratings than the official...
  • Actually I feel bad for the developers that were really trying to help with a solid fb app, ex. Facebook JDB
  • +1
  • The problem I see with all these apps is that they use the big Facebook F for their tile and then just direct everyone to Facebook mobile
  • what about google play (they didnt mention?) it has tons of spam app not only junk.
  • Google has always refused to pull apps unless they are viruses. Its one of the many reasons I don't have an android phone.
  • It's very confusing for customers. Same problem with the YouTube apps.
  • just force the 3rd party apps to change their name. no need to yank them from the store. they put great effort into making their apps especially when the official app was crap
  • +10
  • agreed! I got confused because so many 3rd party facebook used a name that make it looks like an official app (or at least the MS version). I just ran marketplace and found a facebook app named "Facebook WP8 Beta", really closed to the official MS version doesn't? Some people may got tricked by it.
  • Agree only good stuff
  • Why don't Facebook get off there asses and produce an official app than, like they have for all the other major platforms, of coarse you will get tons of third party apps
  • Full letter here
  • I thought they meant MS as a 3rd party as well. I was almost a second away from closing my FB account until I read the whole article. :D
  • Not into plagiarizing others work, even if I don't like Facebook and its creator. It's their product and now that they have come to WP (kinda sorta), they have a right to protect their product.
  • Surprised this hasn't happened sooner to be honest, copyright infringement??? Anyone ever here of it??
  • I support this 100%. WP8 is starting to grow and needs this kind of legitimacy. Everyday users don't follow Windows Phone Central and other sites. So when they go to the app store and see all the fake crap they run. Not to mention when they download these crap clones, that will scare them off as well.
  • I said the same thing about the BBC app that had to be pulled, and I'll say it here.  It definitely sucks for the developers and people who use some of these apps (the rare ones that are quality at least) but it has to happen.  There's way too many apps using branding that they don't own, including exact copies of company logos, in order to get people using their apps.
    How is a regular consumer (ie the kind not on WPCentral) who just wants to use their phone expected to know which of the identical looking icons is the 'official' Facebook app otherwise?  And if people are being tricked into using third-party applications, then where is the safety that should come from a curated app store?
  • Finally! The whole store is occupied with bad Facebook apps. Some are even literally just called 'facebook'!
  • They wouldn't have to deal with this clones if they made the offical app for WP. 
  • im glad for this. most of these apps are just trying to make money out of people. Microsoft should never have allowed all these crap apps into the store in the first place. Now to remove all the crappy youtube apps too!
  • I wish they would implement some sort of "Official App" filter or branding for the whole store.
  • Good and bad. Some apps on that list are junk, others are useful - like Page Manager Hopefully just changing the name and dropping Facebook logos in the app will help get these back in the Store sooner than later. 
  • Page Manager is a great app for us Page owners on Facebook. I liken it to Friendcastor for Facebook for Android in way. Giving Page owners vaulable tools to run their Facebook Page!! Hopefully it is returned to the Windows Phone Store soon!!!
  • None of these developers were trying to make a decent app. It was an attempt to trick unsuspecting users into paying a few bucks for a f*****g mobile wrapper. Good riddance.
  • Not even close to the truth.  Sure some were junk, but there were a few very good ones out there that I used until the new beta came out.
  • the store really needs to be cleaned up. these garbage apps have been on there for years and the WP Store clearly has a policy in place that 3rd party pps cannot simply use another apps name. right now, there are apps that are listed as "Wikipedia" but aren't official Wikipedia apps.  there are 3 bootleg apps on WP7 called "YouTube" and they're listed first ahead the official YouTube app. wtf?!
  • I hope they do it quickly
  • About time too! Microsoft shouldn't have allowed these apps to pass the certification process anyway.
    It's amazing how harsh they are on game makers trying to get Xbox certification or just simply bug fix and update their games yet anyone can publish an app that's nothing but a web wrapper or completely steals and exploits the IP of a major corporation and it'll be allowed through. Madness...
  • As long as their app is actually good and functional then they can complain a little but not remove other peoples app especially since they just started committing to the ecosystem.
  • I think they're doing the right thing. I know Facebook is a billion dollar company, but if I had a company that big I know I'd be trying to protect it. 
  • yes! lets get rid of the riff raff 
  • If Facebook can do this though, what would stop Instagram, Youtube, and other well-known companies to do this to 2nd party apps that we actually do enjoy?
  • They have every right to! No one should steal trademarked names!
  • It's more about the logo and brand name. There can be fully featured 3rd party apps without copyright infringement.
  • This shows Windows Phone is starting to grow and starting to get noticed. BBC just recently got the 3rd party app removed, and now Facebook. This is good news. Now please remove all the youtube crappy apps
  • Even if they are late to the party - they have a right to the name.
  • How exactly are they involved? Other than letting Microsoft use the name, I haven't read anything of their involvement. Obviously, the Beta looks a lot like the iOS and Android versions, but I don't think Facebook lent any developers to build the app.
  • I think facebook should require all 41 apps to submitt a request to use the facebook info and justify their intent.
  • I don't feel bad for any developer that uses Facebook's or anyone else's trademarks as their own. Its weak, shows lack of creativity and confidence in their product in terms of standing alone with its own identity. Baconit for Reddit and Friendcaster Pro (on Android) are great examples of the right way to deliver the features and content of social networks. But taking the colors, logo and literally the word Facebook? Its like dude, make a real life friend and get an idea.
  • If they are using the logo go after them.Youtube will be next.
  • First release an official app better than the 3rd party alternatives before picking on them! 
  • They have. scan the the Facebook Beta code to access it from this link:
  • I have that app, it is still behind JDB Facebook (and others) in my opinion.
  • If they're good, rename, change the logo, and let consumers decide.
  • Facebook didn't make the app Microsoft did.