Facebook sued over Timeline trademark, delays public launch

By on October 4, 2011, 12:00 PM

Facebook is being sued by Chicago-based website Timelines.com for trademark infringement and redirection of the aforementioned company’s Facebook page to the social network’s new Timeline feature.

Timelines.com claims that Facebook’s use of the word Timeline will cause confusion and ultimately lead to the demise of their business. The site allows users to create virtual timelines based on historical events such as famous deaths and great sports moments.

Timelines.com also accused the social network of redirecting their Facebook page to Facebook’s new Timeline feature page instead. Facebook admitted that this was an error and has since corrected the issue.

Timelines.com was seeking a restraining order against Facebook but US federal court judge Edmond Chang has refused to grant one. Instead, Facebook is delaying the public release of Timeline until the company has a chance to make a more detailed argument to another federal judge, says paidContent.

Although the service hasn’t gone live to the general public yet, Facebook already has 1.1 million “developers” using Timeline, according to court records. Roughly 100,000 to 200,000 new users are signing up each day, likely regular members who are signing up for developer accounts to access the feature immediately.

Timelines’ Facebook profile has since been littered with disgruntled Facebook users who believe the company is out to get their 15 minutes of fame and a quick payday from the social networking giant. Interestingly enough, prior to October 1, Timelines’ Facebook page was last updated on June 14.

User Comments: 22

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Cota Cota said:

Way to generic names...

*starts writing "Non generic names for retards"*

UnknownSky said:

Is this like the Bethesda vs. Notch kinda deal where the word "scrolls" might confuse?

katoDRAGON said:

Huh... I though this was just apple. Man this world is fd

Guest said:

Not to rain on Timeline.com's parade but I never heard of Timeline.com before they decided to sue Facebook.

Isn't "timeline" too generic of a term to have rights to anyway?

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

While we are at it, why don't we sue Genealogy.com for using timelines as well?

Not to mention mapping timelines in how County, Parish, State, Providence, and etc... were created over the years.

Perhaps the company would also like to sue each of us for keeping a diary.

I can't say I am overjoyed with the idea of Facebook creating a Timeline but this lawsuit is absurd.

Guest said:

I actually know Timeline.com, they had/have some absolutely terrific software I used when I was homeschooling. It's a small matter of renaming the thing "FBTimeline" or something.

I'm a little disappointed in Timeline.com, because they have trademarked a generic name, what did they expect? But I also think they have a case, given the size and scope of Facebook.

The redirect thing is weird, though, that would be bad.

aj_the_kidd said:

Note to self: Create something, anything, with a name that a big company may potentially use so i can sue them later on for infringement $$$$

Guest said:

^ Best idea

Guest said:

I'm going to start a company called poop and ill sell poop. Then I will sue anyone who uses the word poop or takes a poop. If you can't sell an original idea then sue someone for using the same old idea as you.

Arris Arris said:

Well recently the British PM stated that Britain 'invented' DNA, so I'm guessing the UK will soon be sending out letters to the whole or humanity for infringement on our patent on it.... /sigh

Mizzou Mizzou said:

At least the federal court refused to grant a restraining order. Wonder how much time a year the court system is spending on frivolous lawsuits like this, must be a staggering number.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Arris said:

Well recently the British PM stated that Britain 'invented' DNA, so I'm guessing the UK will soon be sending out letters to the whole or humanity for infringement on our patent on it.... /sigh

Well, they DO have a point. Rosalind Franklin basically got shafted by history, and ripped off by Watson and Crick. Everyone knows of them, and nobody knows about her. You can't forget a unique shape once you see it.

Guest said:

Ah yes, another case of Internet mob rule carried on by selfish, flaming brats demand their immediate and instant gratification right here, right now. And too bad about anyone else who establishes their brand and goes through the proper channels to protect it.

I thought TechSpot was cooler than TechCrunch, but this petty report supporting Facebook's cyberjacking of Timeline.com's trademark just proves snide hacks can be found on any website.

Timeline.com has every right to protect its trademark--and should. Facebook has every right to try and acquire the mark--and should if the mark fits its business model.

But for TechSpot and a few Facebook fanboy freaks to flame a legitimate trademark owner for defending what is legally and rightfully theirs only serves to show just how ugly so-called tech spots can be

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Timeline is not a term that can be used as a trademark.

Timeline is a term that is used in our history books, genealogy, mapping systems, diaries, and many more places. Trying to patent such a term is (I will say this again) absurd.

Ohh and anytime I see someone play the fanboy card, I see them as the fanboy for the other side of the line. What I find offensive is a guest playing these fanboy cards. If you truly mean what you say, show yourself.

jobeard jobeard, TS Ambassador, said:

Timeline is also a report in engineering PERT software for managing project schedules.

This implies 'prior art' exists and thus can't be enforced.

Google for "pert software" for examples.

Guest said:

Fanboys always get defensively snarky when their sniveling realities are either challenged or threatened; i.e., either by Timelines.com or by the Goojamer himself, who is neither a fanboy of this side or the other, but who is a trademark owner.

Every petty larcenist, cyber-pirate or out-and-out thief likes to defend their dishonest intentions with amoral and illegal rationalizations. "Well the bike was just sitting there and nobody was around and it wasn't locked and I needed a ride home so I just took it. How was I supposed to know it belonged to someone?"

"Hey, I got a great idea. I'll call it Timeline. What! You mean somebody trademarked that name? They can't do that. That's a common name. It belongs to everyone, especially me." Anyone who know a smidgen about trademark law knows that it's not the that is trademarked but how the name (mark) is used in commerce and in what category. Clearly, Facebook's use of Timeline infringes on Timeline's federally protected trademark and, hence, the legal action.

Gag on that, Fanboy

Guest said:

And who really cares about the Timeline suit anyway. THAT isn't the point at all. The point is that FAKEBOOK is amking changes that Zukerberg says are the future of social networking and people don't like it. So why not sue to halt the avalanche.

This whole thing is ALL Zukerberg's fantasy anyway. His claims of "This is what people want" are basically (to borrow a term) POOP!!! (Sorry if I infringed on your copyright I'll pay you off later).

I for one have not seen ANYONE on my pages that don't hate everything about this new POOP. Nor have any of my friends on their pages. I am beginning to wonder if the only positive comments are from FAKEBOOK employees who are afraid for their jobs!

And as for (like everything else) the copyright issus is much a do about nothing. It's the privacy issues that have croped up recently that are more disturbing. How long have they been doing THIS? Probably since day ONE and "it was only a mistake" is a crock. It was only a mistake that they got caught!!!

Enough said. The whole thing with FAKEBOOK is just one big pile of POOP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Guest said:

Remember teachbook? They couldn't use the word 'book'. faceboob can go fu#K right off.

aj_the_kidd said:

^^ Someone needs a hug.

I will say fail on Facebook's employees for not figuring out Timeline was already used.

Guest said:

Why Facebook employers not think about before f8 concert that, timelines is trademark of another brand name. http://newfbcovers.com

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Did Microsoft ever try suing hardware stores for selling windows?

If this concept is not comparable please explain why.

I am laughing at all the guest posting comments that are obviously here from Timeline.com.

For the record I hate Facebook just as much as anyone else but this is BS.

vis12345 said:

Actually Facebook already have a page for Timeline, like a archive. The site called "Timelines.com" only accusing to Facebook and not "Timeline.com". and also they just named a theme/skin as Timeline profile and not even a website called Timelines.org or related to it. There may be many companies/shops having the same name even in remote areas of the world. And many even keep their own names for the company/shop. If they sue each other, then the whole wold will be in courts only with all their businesses shut down.

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