After trademark battle, tealbook’s Stephany Lapierre reminds founders to read the fine print

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At the latest TechTO, tealbook founder Stephany Lapierre stopped by to talk about the story of finding her company’s name — and what happened when a social media giant tried to fight her for it.

Lapierre — who was the first founder to receive investment from StandUp Ventures’ women founder-focused fund — came up with the idea while working as a consultant for a firm doing strategic procurement. One of her clients wanted to make an introduction, but took 10 minutes to sift through a big binder to find the business card. Lapierre thought of all the data in that binder, and now works through tealbook to let procurement teams manage and discover suppliers on their own platform.

Inspired by the idea of a ‘blackbook,’ the name tealbook stuck with them. A year after development, Lapierre received a letter from Facebook challenging her name. “I became a trademark expert in a week,” Lapierre jokes, adding that an expensive law firm she hired advised her to sell the name to Facebook. She disagreed.

“I called lawyer that I knew, that of a lawyer, lawyer, lawyer, and then I found Charlie,” she said. “He was a trademark expert at a tiny law firm, and he asks me one question a week after everyone telling me to change my name — he said, why do you need the trademark?”

Lapierre said she had to protect her brand, but Charlie countered she already had the URL, and nobody would take tealbook because Facebook would fight them too. Facebook never ended up filing a suit against tealbook, and the company successfully received their trademark. Lapierre noted that at the time, Facebook had 440 lawsuts against companies with ‘face’ or ‘book’ in their name.

“I think I know why you got your trademark,” Charlie said to Lapierre a week after tealbook received their trademark. The answer was in the fine print.

Find out what she learned here:

The next TechTO takes place on February 12. Get your tickets here!