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Lamebook Sues Facebook Over Trademark Infringement 108

Posted by samzenpus
from the when-parody-attacks dept.
designersdigest writes "Here's a head scratcher, at first glance at least: Lamebook, a hilarious advertising-supported site that lets Facebook users submit funny status updates, pictures and 'other gems' originating from the social network, is apparently suing Facebook over trademark infringement."
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Lamebook Sues Facebook Over Trademark Infringement

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  • Ok (Score:2, Insightful)

    by frozentier (1542099)
    Here's what's ACTUALLY happening. Until this article, I had never heard of lamebook. They (or anybody else) sue facebook, and they get tons of publicity, publicity that they can't afford to actually pay for. With the lawsuit, they get it for free, and it's good publicity instead of bad because they are doing the suing.
    • RTFA (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 07, 2010 @12:25PM (#34154828)

      "So here’s what’s going on here. The complaint is for a declaratory judgement, which means Facebook threatened to sue Lamebook over trademark infringement, and now the tiny company is suing them first in order to get a preemptive decision from the court that there is, in fact, no wrongdoing. Most probably, Lamebook is doing this to keep the lawsuit in Texas."

    • by KingSkippus (799657) on Sunday November 07, 2010 @12:29PM (#34154846) Homepage Journal

      Lamebook is quite obviously a parody site, something that is protected by the First Amendment. Facebook (which has already tried to claim trademark on all ----book sites [slashdot.org]) has already threatened to go after Lamebook. If they do so, it will be tried in whatever Facebook-friendly court district that Facebook wants.

      In order to help protect themselves, Lamebook is suing them preemptively to declare that they have the right to their parody site and avoid being put in a position where Facebook simply outspends them in litigation.

      I say good for 'em, and I hope they win. This is a MUCH better long-term strategy than simply not responding to Facebook or mocking them [thepiratebay.org] until they get shut down.

      • I hope they win. Just because I detest Facebook.
      • It looks like Facebook wasn't suing all sites with the word book it, it was *social networking* sites that have book in them. And frankly, "Teachbook" is a poor name for a social networking site, even if it is just a specialty one focusing on teachers. The naming plainly sounds like they're trying to ride the coattails of the Facebook trademark.

        • Are they riding the coattails of Facebook? Hell yes, they never said they're not! The site's tagline is, "The funniest and lamest of facebook." But again, it's parody, which is allowed by the First Amendment.

      • mocking them until they get shut down.

        Well... they're still online, aren't they? (TPB)

        In their own words,

        TEH PIRATE BAY IZ AN UNSINKABLE SHIP. IT WILL SAIL TEH INTERWEBS 4 AS LONG AS WE WANTS IT 2. REMEMBR DAT, K THX.

        TPB, ONLY IN IT 4 TEH LULZ SINCE 2003

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        Ok... after looking over the facts I am taking Facebook's side.

        Lamebook may be a parody site, it may even feature nostril rape, but that site is an absolute mess and looks like shit, and its basically a shitty blog of images. Based on technical merits alone it should be wiped off the Internet by any means possible. This kind of shitty design shouldn't be encouraged.

        Facebook is doing the right thing.

        • by jonaskoelker (922170) <jonaskoelker@gnu ... org minus distro> on Monday November 08, 2010 @07:48AM (#34160314) Homepage

          it may even feature nostril rape, but that site is an absolute mess and looks like shit, and its basically a shitty blog of images.

          You're going to love /b/ ;-)

          • Well.. not really.

            There is a difference.. 4chan *is* an image board and really nothing more. It's content and the type of images (and I was implicitly endorsing nostril rape as positive, mind you) are driven entirely by the users. The site carries very little aesthetic or even direction (although it has some) on its own.

            Lamebook is supposedly catering to a specific purpose, but it is just using whatever piece of crap blog software they could find for it, putting up butchered, pain in the ass pngs, which is

      • Lamebook is quite obviously a parody site, something that is protected by the First Amendment. Facebook (which has already tried to claim trademark on all ----book sites [slashdot.org]) has already threatened to go after Lamebook. If they do so, it will be tried in whatever Facebook-friendly court district that Facebook wants.

        In order to help protect themselves, Lamebook is suing them preemptively to declare that they have the right to their parody site and avoid being put in a position where Facebook simply outspends them in litigation.

        I doubt that they were worried about this going to court, even in a Facebook-friendly court that's one-thousand miles away from them.

        The crux of their panic here was that the Facebook lawyer threatened the nuclear option, to "shut down their personal Facebook account if they didn't comply" [lamebook.com] (and that, I'm afraid they wouldn't have been able to do anything about, it's Facebook's right to shut down any personal Facebook page they desire, just like it was Rupert Murdoch's right to shut down any MySpace account

      • by crossmr (957846)

        Parody is not a blanket defense to allow someone to copy another by trying to make it funny:

        is the use of some elements of a prior author's composition to create a new one that, at least in part, comments on that author's works

        see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parody#Copyright_issues [wikipedia.org]
        and
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Campbell_v._Acuff-Rose_Music,_Inc [wikipedia.org].

        I can't see anywhere on that site where they are commenting on the author's work. They are producing screenshots of various updates and things they think are amusi

        • by cgenman (325138)

          My understanding is that trademark infringement and / or dilution are related to the likelyhood of causing confusion in the marketplace. Calling yourself "The funniest and lamest of facebook" in your logo is likely to clarify that the site in question is not facebook. That's not parody, but they should be adequately protected. Still, they should have chosen another font.

          Also, does Facebook own the exclusive copyright to the content, or do the posters?

          • by crossmr (957846)

            regardless of who owns it, it may be owned by each individual who made a comment on some of those long status updates, it is extremely unlikely they have permission from each person in the thread to repost those.
            So even if it's not facebook who owns the content for copyright, they're likely on the hook to someone. Someone mentioned earlier something about the Facebook ToS taking any work you create on there.

      • by Amlothi (207848)

        Why is it that summarizing the article, point for point, gets a score of 5 informative?

        Perhaps it's because:

        1) Nobody expected anyone to actually read the article.

        2) The summaries presented do not actually summarize the article, but simply copy and paste the first couple of sentences.

        I should just start summarizing every article on Slashdot, without adding any insight or information, just to raise my karma.

        • So wait, are you saying that no one reads the articles, and that the summaries of submissions just contain the first little bit of the back-end article?

  • Lamebook has a funny catchy name that they feel has yet to go viral. Since they just host ads, all they need you to do is visit their site. Or, better yet, Google and then visit their site (like icing on the cake). Any money they spend on this frivolous lawsuit will be more than made up by the resultant ad views and revenue from thousands visiting their site from this news.

    Don't do it. Don't reinforce this behavior. Let them gamble and let them lose. They're making a mockery of our justice system
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Quoting TFA - Emphasis mine.

      So here’s what’s going on here. The complaint is for a declaratory judgement, which means Facebook threatened to sue Lamebook over trademark infringement, and now the tiny company is suing them first in order to get a preemptive decision from the court that there is, in fact, no wrongdoing. Most probably, Lamebook is doing this to keep the lawsuit in Texas.

      According to the complaint, Facebook counsel first contacted Lamebook back in March 2010, asking them to cease an

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Chabil Ha' (875116)

      They are not making a mockery of the system, the system has been at the funny farm for quite some time. They are just playing by the same 'rules' that Facebook are. Going after legit businesses with 'book' in their name is just as farcical as this.

      • Uhhh... Microsoft v. Lindows [wikipedia.org]

        Not entirely without precedent. I understand that Lindows was not a parody and therefore is not in the same situation, but it's hardly the first time a huge company has sued a much smaller one just for having a similar name.
        • I think your comparison is without merit. Lindows was obviously trying to ride on the coat-tails of Microsoft by using its name as a way to 'confuse' people into using Linux versus Windows. Linspire's own lawyers didn't even want to defend the case, as the article points out.

          This on the other hand, is parody, a key ingredient to a successful defense.

    • by KingSkippus (799657) on Sunday November 07, 2010 @12:38PM (#34154906) Homepage Journal

      Did you even read the article? They're not the ones who initiated this action. Facebook has already contacted them several times threatening to sue, and they have every reason to believe they will [slashdot.org]. If they do, then Lamebook, which has a site that is protected by the First Amendment, will be forced to defend themselves through a trial and umpteen appeals in a faraway district, likely one that is very unfriendly to them.

      All they are doing is asking for a declaratory judgment that they have done nothing wrong so that they won't be litigated into either bankruptcy or submission. From there, some news outlets picked up the story, because it is of interest to the tech community.

      Will they benefit from the free advertising as a result? Maybe so, but that doesn't change that the motive is probably primarily self-preservation, not revenue generation.

    • by ddxexex (1664191) on Sunday November 07, 2010 @12:41PM (#34154932)
      My understanding of them suing was not for the free advertisement but rather the fact that the lawsuit will happen in Texas rather than a "Facebook-friendly" court. And Facebook was probably going to sue them anyways, so they took the initiative and did something to improve their chances of winning. I don't see anything wrong with survival instincts and I give them credit for sticking up for their 1st amendment rights.
    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by budgenator (254554)

      lamebook also seems to have a business plan that revolves around stealing copyrighted content from individuals facebook pages and posting it on their site without even the courtesy of attribution. Even if you hate facebook for being a narcisstic circle-jerk, they don't seem to be the bad-guys here, just clueless.

      • by arashi no garou (699761) on Sunday November 07, 2010 @01:12PM (#34155144)

        Copyrighted by whom? Not the Facebook user who posted it; you waive your right to copyright the moment you sign up for a Facebook account. There is an argument to be made that Lamebook is profiting off of Facebook's "copyrighted" content, but Facebook didn't create the content. They just force their users to hand over rights to it. It's a clusterfuck all the way around, and unfortunately the only ones left with no rights at all are the users.

        • by cynyr (703126)

          but you can make use of copyrighted content for parody... isn't that what lamebook is?

          • Yes you can, and I'm actually on Lamebook's side in this; I personally feel it's a legal parody. I just pointed out that in the end, the actual content creators (the users) have no say in the matter either way.

            • by crossmr (957846)

              No, it's not. legal parody requires that the the person creating the parody use the material to comment on the original author's creation.

              is the use of some elements of a prior author's composition to create a new one that, at least in part, comments on that author's works

              Lamebook has done nothing of the sort. They're simply posting pictures and content without comment as far as I can see. About the only thing they create is the blurry stuff and the titles, neither of which make comments about Facebook.

              see

              • Isn't the Lamebook site itself a commentary on Facebook?

                • by crossmr (957846)

                  it's extremely weak commentary.
                  Since some of the content they post isn't "lame" and instead is posted to indicate it's funny, it doesn't seem to be particularly good commentary either.

          • : a literary or musical work in which the style of an author or work is closely imitated for comic effect or in ridicule
            : a feeble or ridiculous imitation
            PARODY [merriam-webster.com]

            You see to make a parody, requires creative effort, not merely copying other's work and making slight changes. the style is copied. The musical "Westside Story" is a parody of "Romeo and Juliet"; Lamebook is not a parody of Facebook.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Eskarel (565631)

              Westside story is not a parody, it might be ridiculous, but it's not a parody.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by roju (193642)

          Copyrighted by whom? Not the Facebook user who posted it; you waive your right to copyright the moment you sign up for a Facebook account.

          That's not even remotely true. It's the second item in the Facebook terms [facebook.com]:

          You own all of the content and information you post on Facebook

        • They don't force any rights transferm except they do say they need the license to distribute the copyrighted material that user post on their site to distributed.

      • The names are removed to avoid being sued by the authors for slander or whatever damage they suffer from having their lameness publicized. Providing proper attributions could even get lamebook criminally charged with "cyber-bullying".
    • by grimdawg (954902)

      I suspect they feel it's most definitely 'gone viral'. You might not have heard of it, but Lamebook is definitely a popular website with a lot of fans.

      They are not after Slashdot's traffic, they are trying to protect themselves from Facebook's hefty law department.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by John Hasler (414242)

      This is not a frivolous suit. It is a justified declaratory judgement suit. Outfits like Facebook use public threats to sue to spread FUD. They drag out "negotiations" indefinitely with no intention of actually suing. The purpose of a declaratory judgement suit is to put a stop to that.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 07, 2010 @12:22PM (#34154800)

    From TFA:

    "The complaint is for a declaratory judgement, which means Facebook threatened to sue Lamebook over trademark infringement, and now the tiny company is suing them first in order to get a preemptive decision from the court that there is, in fact, no wrongdoing."

    • This site is pretty straight forward: http://www.customerservicescoreboard.com/ [customerse...eboard.com] - people can score companies based on the customer service they provide. Facebook / markmonitor.com decide for some reason that it infringes on their trademark based on this page: http://www.customerservicescoreboard.com/Facebook [customerse...eboard.com] Which leads to the following big waste of time/resources simply to tell their legal team to leave them alone: 1) they receive the complaint 2) they contact their registrar http://www.namesilo.com/ [namesilo.com] to
      • [snip] Facebook / markmonitor.com decide for some reason that it infringes on their trademark based on this page: http://www.customerservicescoreboard.com/Facebook [customerse...eboard.com] Which leads to the following big waste of time/resources simply to tell their legal team to leave them alone: 1) they receive the complaint 2) they contact their registrar http://www.namesilo.com/ [namesilo.com] to find out what problems if any they have with their domain 3) NameSilo recommends some trademark attorney and 4) the attorney files a response (http://www.customerservicescoreboard.com/images/CustomerServiceScoreboard_Facebook_Response.pdf) which more or less tells Facebook to please leave them alone and that their trademark infringement case is baseless. Facebook ended up dropping the threat. But this goes to show you how ridiculous the situation has become. Sites like Facebook employ services like Markmonitor.com to basically send out thousands of trademark and/or dmca threats.

        One of the quirks of American trademark law is that if a trademark holder does not aggressively "defend" its trademark it risks losing said trademark. But before you decry this as just another vulgar americanism, remember that this is not just a really dumb aspect to trademark law -- It's a jobs program for lawyers. N.B.: IANAL

        • One of the quirks of American trademark law is that if a trademark holder does not aggressively "defend" its trademark it risks losing said trademark. But before you decry this as just another vulgar americanism, remember that this is not just a really dumb aspect to trademark law -- It's a jobs program for lawyers.

          What's the alternative? A government bureaucracy of 'trademark police' whose job is to go out and enforce private businesses' IP? The way it is makes the most sense. The burden of protecting I

  • Totally lame.
  • When I read the summary I thought that lamebook has a very similar layout to fb. I visited lb and even the shade of blue is wrong. It's just a freakin blog...
  • What about the Phonebook? They've been infringing on facebook's trademark for a long time now, over 100 years actually.
  • by skywire (469351) * on Sunday November 07, 2010 @03:18PM (#34156098)

    According to the article, Facebook has publicly responded with

      It’s unfortunate that after months of working with Lamebook to amicably resolve what we believe is an improper attempt to build a brand that trades off Facebook’s popularity and fame, they have turned to litigation. We are confident in our position and believe we will prevail in court.

    What they would be saying under sodium pentathol:

    We are miffed that after several months of bullying Lamebook with threatened litigation over their building of a business that takes natural and legal (but you'll never get us to admit it) advantage of the social phenomena created by Facebook, under a brand name that no human being would come close to confusing with ours, they feel forced to defend themselves in a court of law. We are certain that our deeper pockets will overwhelm justice in court.

  • "First amendment" (Score:3, Informative)

    by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Sunday November 07, 2010 @05:17PM (#34156856) Homepage

    Seriously, is everyone retarded? Yes, the first amendment dictates that the US government shall not infringe on its people's right to free speech and assembly, and yes, parody is (with certain conditions) exempt from copyright as Fair Use.

    These two facts have nothing to do with each other.

    So STFU about amendments already.

    • by 91degrees (207121)
      Copyright is a law that restricts my freedom of speech. Parody is an explicit case of free speech in that it's typically criticism.
  • ...that Facebook tried to threaten action and, in doing so, suggest they had something in common to lose to Lamebook.

    Forget what Lamebook has to gain from this. People are going to see Facebook and Lamebook side by side in the story and say "Facebook feels Lamebook is a threat? Did Lamebook offer something Facebook felt threatened about losing?" What they should have done is to ignore Lamebook from the start. Its the best way to discredit them.
  • ...Facebook wants people to be lame on Facebook and not Lamebook.
  • ...to nip legal huffing and puffing in the bud - you can go in circles for months and months basically arguing "did not, did too!" with the puffer while potential damages accrue, or file for declaratory judgment, in which you present the evidence to a judge who (you hope) says "yup, did not, now bugger off." (Any parallels to running to the teacher on the playground are purely uncoincidental). For example look up Symantec v. HotBar (DirectRevenue?): a spyware company was sending threats to an A/V vendor for

  • ... if they started their own "lamest of facebook" section. One of the most popular parts of Craigslist is the "best of craigslist" section, so it's been done and proven.

    On facebooks' trademarks: Prior use would be easy to establish. "The phone book" has been in use way longer than facebook has been existing. Remarkably, it is also a directory that enables people to communicate with each other and is also widely used as a data mine by advertisers as well.
    The thumbs sign was documented to be "invented" b
  • Can everyone in the world sue Facebook? Considering everyone actually has a "Face" and Facebook used it as a trademark?

  • Lamebook or Facebook, who came out first with their name, end of story, no?

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