Facebook’s legal threat could put Hackney entrepreneurs’ busking website at risk

Jor'el Mitchell and Servais Louis, founders of FaceBUSKS.

Jor'el Mitchell and Servais Louis, founders of FaceBUSKS. - Credit: Archant

Two entrepreneurs claim social media giant Facebook has threatened them with legal action because they’ve set up a website with a similar name.

Jor’el Mitchell and Servais Louis fear years of hard work will go up in smoke after the company flexed its muscles over the title of their online busking site FaceBusks.

The pair, who both work as civil planning engineers at Heathrow airport, have spent their free time over the last four years developing the website, giving musicians the chance to showcase their talent from home.

Mr Mitchell, 29, of Sandringham Road, Dalston, said: “They have said that we cannot go ahead and they are taking legal action to shut our site down.

“But we have chosen to go with the name – we are not going to lie down and play dead.

“We are taking this to the next level and considering all options.

“Facebook may claim the use of the word ‘face’ but it’s a word people use all the time. The reason we use ‘face’ in our name is because it shows how the site can be used for an intimate discussion. It’s a way of explaining how musicians can interact with users.”

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The pair set up the company in 2009, put a pilot version of the site out and gathered feedback from users.

They claim the site proved to be so popular that they managed to get 20,000 people using the test version – and it went public the following year.

The finished site was due to be officially launched next week, but their aspirations have now been put on hold until they reach a resolution with Facebook.

Despite this, Mr Mitchell said they had enjoyed building the site and that its aim was to make busking more popular.

He added: “We are saying busking should be as common as taking a selfie or sending out a tweet.

“We are two young guys trying to make a difference in the world and we believed we had found a gap in music. We have had good feedback from industry professionals.”

Facebook officials did not wish to comment.