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February 3, 2014

FiftyThree Disputes Facebook’s Right to Name its New App Paper

Image courtesy of (arztsamui)/

Facebook’s newly-launched news reader app Paper has drawn the ire of drawing app maker FiftyThree, whose signature application is also named Paper.

Facebook image

Facebook image

FiftyThree CEO Georg Petschnigg is demanding Facebook change the name of its app to prove it is not made up of a group of corporate “bullies” willing to trample the little guy.

“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,” Petschnigg writes in a post on the company blog. “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.”

Petschnigg makes a good case. His app, which made its debut two years ago, is not only popular, it won Apple’s 2012 iPad App of the Year.

He also points out FiftyThree has numerous ties to Facebook.

“Many friends, former students and colleagues are doing good work at Facebook,” he writes. “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’?”

What Petschnigg does not say, however, is his company’s app is not the first to be named paper.

Contradictory also released an app named Paper — but in the fall of 2011, well before FiftyThree’s release of its app.

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iTune screenshot

Also, FiftyThree’s app is trademarked as Paper By FiftyThree.

Facebook’s Paper, which debuted today, mixes content from a user’s news feed with posts and articles from “emerging voices and well-known publications” and displays it together in a new interface.

Users simply tilt their Smartphone to scroll through panoramic photos from corner to corner, and to get a close up view of faces and other important details. It also offers full-screen auto-play videos, gives stories eye-catching, full-screen covers and enables articles to unfold in the app and appear fullscreen.

When a users wants to share a story of his or her own, a live preview will give the user a chance to see it as it will appear before posting it.

“Paper makes storytelling more beautiful with an immersive design and fullscreen, distraction-free layouts,” Facebook said in a blog post.  “We’ve also made it easier to craft and share beautiful stories of your own.

“Your Paper is made of stories and themed sections, so you can follow your favorite interests. The first section in Paper is your Facebook News Feed, where you’ll enjoy inspiring new designs for photos, videos, and longer written posts. You can customize Paper with a choice of more than a dozen other sections about various themes and topics—from photography and sports to food, science and design.”

Paper, the first product from Facebook Creative Labs, is currently available only to American iPhone users.


Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.