LitterGram developer in plea to Facebook supremo Zuckerberg over name row


A British app developer has issued a personal plea to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg after the social network's lawyers threatened legal action over his app's name: LitterGram.

Kent businessman Danny Lucas took to YouTube to share a video plea in which he asks Mr Zuckerberg not to force LitterGram to change its name, which Facebook argues is too similar to Instagram, the photo-sharing service owned by the site. 

LitterGram is a free app that asks users to photograph, share and geo-tag litter they see on the streets in an effort to raise awareness and discourage litterers.

The app currently has a partnership in place with a local council which can locate and remove the litter, a scheme Mr Lucas hopes to extend. 

Facebook argues that use of the word "gram" along with the photography and social aspects of the app are too similar to that of Instagram, which has more than 400 million users.

The social network has asked for a response by April 28, leading to the businessman issuing the online plea to reach a compromise.

"We never intended to get into a fight with a giant, we were just trying to come up with a way to make Britain tidier," Mr Lucas told the Press Association.

"We didn't think the word 'gram' was a problem. The app isn't about photos, it's about cleaning up litter, and I remember things like GorillaGram from when I was younger."

In a written response alongside the video, the app's creator said: "This is not a money-making exercise, the app is free to the public, and our portal is free to the councils. We have never set out to be Facebook or Instagram.

"Social media in today's world is a human right, and for that reason should not be exclusive to global giants like Facebook who for sure have deep pockets to engage the best available lawyers. But to attempt to stop a much needed problem solver like LitterGram I find an extremely hard pill to swallow, as it goes completely against what you are about."

He added that Facebook's active support of several charitable causes meant that he hoped an agreement could be reached.

"I wanted to get his (Zuckerberg's) attention because I've read in the last few months that he is a believer in good causes and that's what we're doing. I hope the appeal reaches them and has an effect on hearts and minds."

The businessman also said that while they would have no choice to change the name if legal action was pursued, the damage to the app's brand could slow its campaign significantly.

"We don't want to lose the name and everything we've managed to achieve with it - the traction we've gained with local authorities and the trust we've built up," he said.

"Of course, compared to them we don't have the money to fight this, so we would have to change it, but we don't want to lose everything and have to start from scratch. We hope to carry on, but will have no choice to change if they force the law on us.

"There's a big risk we'll lose the trust that we've built up, but can only hope everyone understands."

Facebook is yet to comment on the issue.