Recent trademark applications filed by Facebook in Australia offer clues to what its new name could be, should CEO Mark Zuckerberg rename the social media namesake platform’s parent company at the company’s annual Connect conference next week, as reported by The Verge earlier this week.
Facebook, according to the Australian government’s intellectual property register, filed four separate trademark applications on September 30 for the name “Horizon”, and an earlier filing for a new logo — which is currently in use for Facebook View — on September 9, which was submitted alongside a third application for the name “Stories”.
Among the separate filings for the name “Horizon” were descriptions of an “application service provider”, an “application programming interface”, “augmented reality arcade services” and “game services”, and “conducting special events for commercial, promotional or advertising purposes”.
At least one of the descriptions aligns with the first of Facebook’s “metaverse” products, Horizon Workrooms, a VR workspace for team meetings which was launched by the company in August. However, the others address separate, core parts of Facebook’s business.
In its application, Facebook describes “Stories” as “computer hardware; software development tools”, and “software for use as an application programming interface”.
The trademark applications, which are on track for approval by January 2023, follow reports of similar filings in the US, where Facebook filed applications for the same logo and the name “Stories” on September 9 with the US Patent and Trademark Office.
Neither the US or Australian trademark applications get at whether the names “Horizon” or “Stories” — and the accompanying logo — could in fact be used as part of Zuckerberg’s impending rebrand next week, while a trademark application for the name “Horizon” hasn’t yet been filed in the US.
Facebook’s new name has been a closely-guarded secret, even within the company, where most of its leadership are in the dark. A spokesperson for Facebook said “we don’t comment on rumour or speculation”.
A source with direct knowledge of the matter told The Verge that the rename should signal the tech giant’s “ambition” to be known for more than social media alone, and that a rebrand would likely see Facebook, as a social media platform, form part of a suite of products alongside WhatsApp, Instagram, Oculus, and others under a new parent company.
Zuckerberg is expected to announce the new name at the company’s Connect conference on October 28. It comes just months after the CEO announced Facebook’s pursuit of the “metaverse”, which has so far been driven by a sizable foray into AR technology, like AR glasses, that Zuckerberg thinks will soon overtake smartphones in popularity.
Critics say that the CEO’s move to rename, or create, the social media platform’s parent company could be perceived as one he has manufactured to distance himself from the blowback that has accompanied the Wall Street Journal’s recent “Facebook Files” investigation, along with a cascading series of other controversies since 2016, including the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
The Journal’s investigation is based on a series of internal documents, which were later subject to testimony before US Congress, that detailed how the company’s leadership were aware of the ways in which the platform was causing harm to some users.