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Creative

Feb. 5, 2014 11:15 am

What’s in a name? The view from Baltimore tech company Figure 53

When founder Chris Ashworth saw a tech company with a similar name doing essentially what Figure 53 does, he was concerned the two companies would be confused for each other.

Chris Ashworth. Photo via BaltimoreTech.net.

Facebook just released a new app, Paper, for sharing stories with friends.

Trouble is, a tech startup called FiftyThree — which makes apps for artists — has had an app named Paper. Released in 2012, the app lets people draw on their iPad much in the same way they would draw in a sketchbook. Apple named it the best app of 2012. On Monday, FiftyThree wrote an open letter “story” to Facebook telling the 10-year-old social media company that it should “stop using our brand name.”

But FiftyThree’s own story has one wrinkle: in 2006, a Baltimore-based tech company called Figure 53 was founded. As founder Chris Ashworth notes in a blog post, Figure 53 also creates products for artists. And when Ashworth saw a tech company with a similar name doing something close to what Figure 53 does, he was concerned the two companies would be confused for each other.

Important to keep in mind is that Figure 53 already had a registered trademark on the name. Ashworth’s full post outlines how he contacted FiftyThree to “set up a co-existence agreement,” to allow both companies to use a similar-sounding name provided FiftyThree “stays focused on the kinds of things” it’s doing now.

But he also offers some perspective on the difficulty in choosing a company or product name while not stepping on someone else’s toes.

Read Chris Ashworth’s blog post here.

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Andrew Zaleski

Andrew Zaleski is Technically Baltimore's lead reporter. Before joining Technically Baltimore, he was digital media editor for Urbanite magazine. He graduated from Loyola University Maryland in May 2011.

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