Hey Facebook, There's Already An App Called Paper, And It Wants Its Name Back

"We woke up Thursday morning and learned that Facebook was calling their app Paper," said FiftyThree CEO Georg Petschnigg. "We were just as confused as everyone else."

Like us, plenty of eyebrows were raised when Facebook announced a beautiful new story-telling app called "Paper" last week. Ordinarily that wouldn't be an issue. But Paper is already the name of a beautiful and very popular art and productivity app created by FiftyThree, which has received numerous awards, including Apple's coveted App of the Year for 2012 .

In a blog post this morning, the FiftyThree team said it was as shocked as anyone with Facebook's name choice, and is now calling on the social network to consider changing it. "It came as a huge surprise," Georg Petschnigg, cofounder and CEO of FiftyThree, told Fast Company in a phone conversation. "We woke up Thursday morning and learned that Facebook was calling their app Paper. We were just as confused as everyone else."

Petschnigg, who says the company owns the trademark for "Paper by FiftyThree," says his team has been in talks with Facebook since Thursday. So far, at least, Facebook appears reticent on its willingness to cooperate. "Paper is synonymous with our app. The number one search result is for our app," Petschnigg told me. "For us it's about supporting peoples' creativity and allowing people to tell their story."

It puts FiftyThree in an awkward position. "We've been friends with [Facebook]. Colleagues, former students of mine are on their design team," he added. Facebook, to its credit, has apologized to FiftyThree for the confusion, and also for not alerting FiftyThree of its story-telling app sooner.

"What will Facebook's story be?" Peschnigg asked on the company's blog. "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?'"

Facebook declined to comment for this story, and its new app is now available in the App Store. "From our perspective, we remain hopeful and in discussions with Facebook," Petschnigg said. "We just want to set the record straight."

[Image: FiftyThree]

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5 Comments

  • Cheryl Binstock

    Wow! there's a huge bone of contention about "Paper" and who has rights to the name as a proper name for an App. I couldn't even find "Paper by 53" on my iPhone, (have been using it on my iPad for a year!) I can't locate the "Paper - stories for Facebook" App on my iPhone either but I found a cool little App on my iPhone named just "Paper" and it looks pretty nice. That last app has a brief disclaimer in the info page explaining the whole "Paper" name problem from their perspective and it's quite interesting! Apparently they are convinced they were the first to use that name. This may be the next BIG internet story!

  • Using the new Facebook Paper app on my iPhone feels like playing fruit ninja. Sure I can try and train myself, but who has the time?

    IMO, it's an IxD fail.

    Paper by FiftyThree OTOH.

  • Facebook is just another bully out there. Honestly it deems to me that besides the incredible UX, Paper is simply a restyling of the app. Central newsfeed with the addition of a few general news topics. flipboard did it better and earlier at the mobile/tablet level and theneeds did it better with content curation!