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Facebook Businesses Social Networks The Courts

Facebook's Faces Trademark Suit Over Timeline 83

Posted by Soulskill
from the ask-the-traveler-for-help dept.
sydneyhype writes "Facebook's recently announced Timeline feature is up against legal action from an online social-scrapbooking company that has been in business since 2008. The company, Timelines.com, filed a trademark-infringement suit yesterday against Facebook, claiming it is to prevent being 'rolled over and quite possibly eliminated by the unlawful action by the world's largest and most powerful social-media company, Facebook.'"
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Facebook's Faces Trademark Suit Over Timeline

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  • In other news.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by monoqlith (610041) on Saturday October 01, 2011 @07:30PM (#37580532)

    National Geographic [wikipedia.org], the band Ayreon [wikipedia.org], the band Rennaissance [wikipedia.org], MIT [wikipedia.org] and, despite being dead, Michael Crichton [wikipedia.org] have joined the suit.

    • by lennier (44736)

      "Ooh". "Ahhh." That's how cloning Zombie Michael Crichton always starts.

      Then later there's running, and thinly veiled right-wing political commentary, and screaming,

  • by utkonos (2104836) on Saturday October 01, 2011 @07:33PM (#37580544)
    You have left us at the mercy of trolls and idiots. Headlines don't even make sense anymore.
    • by OzPeter (195038) on Saturday October 01, 2011 @07:50PM (#37580630)

      You have left us at the mercy of trolls and idiots. Headlines don't even make sense anymore.

      Grasshopper [1], with the great master having achieved enlightenment and moved on from our plane of existence the time has come for you to push yourself beyond your limits and reach for enlightenment yourself. Only when you have studied the The great work [wikipedia.org] and understood its nuances will you only start to understand such inscrutable works as "facebook's faces trademark suit over timeline"
       
      [1] Or "Young Padawan" for those who were too young to have experienced the sublime master (or was that the "ridiculous master" - I really appreciated Kill Bill for a number of reasons)

      • The unintentionally funny thing is Taco did a few things for the window manager "enlightenment" before slashdot.
        Thus he'd not only reached enlightenment but also ePlus :)
        • Yeah, but before 2000 a well-executed Hello World was sufficient to get VC funding.

          And even for a couple of years after that anyone who hadn't gone completely insane needed very little brain to achieve. (That would explain how I got anywhere, anyway.)

          • by dbIII (701233)

            Yeah, but before 2000 a well-executed Hello World was sufficient to get VC funding.

            Only in America.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You're kidding right? He was bad as anyone else. People bitched about how he wasn't an proper editor for years.

      You are delusional.

  • Too generic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stephanruby (542433) on Saturday October 01, 2011 @07:35PM (#37580552)

    The term "time line" is such a common generic term. I doubt their suit has any legal standing.

    If it did have legal standing, then we would see sites like Dictionary.com suing every site that had a dictionary, or Sex.com that sued every news site that had a sex carried column. It would freeze the Internet as we know it and all sites would be required to use pig latin to communicate (until most common pig latin terms are monopolized, and then we'd only be left with gibberish if we're lucky).

     

    • by dristoph (1207920)

      Gibberish? You mean like all those old "Web 2.0" company names? Weebly, Twitter, Etsy, etc, etc...

    • by Tasha26 (1613349)
      How did they get a trademark in the first place? Isn't prior art such as this [blogspot.com] (made popular by encyclopedias the world over) in the way? So if I make a website to timeline the evolution of something or allow others to do so on my site, then I'll be in trouble? Can someone explain this to me? Thanks.
  • And in other news, someone else sued Facebook, the sky is blue, water is wet and ice is cold.

  • 'Unfortunately', this is how the free market works, and I'm sure many businesses have been bitten by such deaths.

    The 'good news' if they do go under is they don't have to put more hard work into updating their site, as the good souls at Facebook would be taking over that role. Google, MS or Apple after that will probably chomp even Facebook then, bringing us all one step closer to an automated society, which is in no way a bad thing.

  • Timeline.com is just making chronological lists of historical events, which anyone can do with a piece of paper and pen. That idea is probably older than Jesus. How is this a trade-mark infringement? It's like trying to sue someone for making a Venn diagram.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Timeline.com is just making chronological lists of historical events, which anyone can do with a piece of paper and pen. That idea is probably older than Jesus. How is this a trade-mark infringement? It's like trying to sue someone for making a Venn diagram.

      Older than Jesus? I think we need a timeline to back that up. Also I agree 100%

    • by NFN_NLN (633283) on Saturday October 01, 2011 @08:17PM (#37580728)

      Timeline.com is just making chronological lists of historical events, which anyone can do with a piece of paper and pen. That idea is probably older than Jesus. How is this a trade-mark infringement? It's like trying to sue someone for making a Venn diagram.

      This is a trade-mark dispute not a patent dispute. I don't think anyone is questioning the process of recording chronological information; just the name timeline...

      • by msobkow (48369)

        That may be, but I don't see how such a generic industry standard term as "timeline" was ever accorded trademark status in the first place.

        Then again, MicroSquishy got away with "Windows", and Apple is trying their damnedest to do the same thing to "App Store".

        • Then again, MicroSquishy got away with "Windows"

          As I remember it, it appeared at one time that the company that produced LindowsOS had a good case for "windows" being generic, and Microsoft agreed to settle the lawsuit and buy the Lindows trademark.

    • by mysidia (191772) *

      Maybe timelines.com should be suing the owners of timeline.com before they go after Facebook?

      • by NFN_NLN (633283)

        Maybe timelines.com should be suing the owners of timeline.com before they go after Facebook?

        Trade-marks are intended to identify products and services for a particular industry. "timeline.com" appears to be an investigation and security company while "timelines.com" is a historical database. Facebook Timelines on the other hand is both a similar name and similar service and therefore infringes on "timelines.com"

        • by NFN_NLN (633283) on Saturday October 01, 2011 @09:18PM (#37580976)

          Maybe timelines.com should be suing the owners of timeline.com before they go after Facebook?

          Trade-marks are intended to identify products and services for a particular industry. "timeline.com" appears to be an investigation and security company while "timelines.com" is a historical database. Facebook Timelines on the other hand is both a similar name and similar service and therefore infringes on "timelines.com"

          Maybe they should just shorten it from "Facebook Timelines" to "FaceTime" and save themselves the hassle of a lawsuit :)

          Thanks, I'll be here all week.

          • by tqk (413719)

            Maybe they should just shorten it from "Facebook Timelines" to "FaceTime" and save themselves the hassle of a lawsuit :)

            Thank you, that's about the most sensible post I've read in this thread. And, I'm a little concerned that I bother replying. Pretty much everyone posting here is clearly drunk (or something). Oh yeah, it's Saturday night, the [AN]LCS games are over for the day; what else is there to do but torment trolls on /.? Update FB "walls"? I think I'll go see haw badly LinkedIn's "Import Resume" feature mangled mine.

            [I notice "haw" gets past the /. spellchecker. That should be looked into.]

            Marvin the robot come

          • Did facebook actually trademark "Timeline"?

    • by ShakaUVM (157947)

      >>It's like trying to sue someone for making a Venn diagram.

      The estate of Mr. Venn would like to have words with you, as their copyright on Venn diagrams has recently been extended to life of the author + 120 years, and Mr. Venn died in the early 20s.

      • by lennier (44736)

        Mr. Venn died in the early 20s.

        Tragically killed in an intersection, I presume?

  • Very weak case (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dwillden (521345) on Saturday October 01, 2011 @08:16PM (#37580722) Homepage
    Facebook isn't marketing this as Timelines.com by Facebook or even Timelines by Facebook, it's simply a timeline of your facebook information. A google search of Timelines had multiple items (not related to the news of the suit or to the FB feature) before timelines.com, including at least one other site that does the exact same thing Timelines seems to do. A search of the word Timeline failed to find the site in three pages of links.

    If FB were marketing the new Timelines website by FB then the site might have a case, but FB is using a generic term in accordance with it's definition.

    Somebody should make a Timeline about the history of such trolls.
    • by Jay L (74152)

      Somebody should make a Timeline about the history of such trolls

      ITYM somebody should make a Timeline brand linear time display about the history of such trolls.

    • Re:Very weak case (Score:5, Informative)

      by flimflammer (956759) on Sunday October 02, 2011 @12:46AM (#37581710)

      It doesn't help Facebook "stole" the timelines url on facebook.com from timelines.com (which is the url the site was using to bring in their traffic) and used it to redirect to their own offering, essentially stealing the traffic which intended to go to timelines.com and instead went to the facebook version. Considering timelines.com have a valid trademark, Facebook does appear to be in a position where confusion is inevitable.

      • See, there you go with useful information instead of knee-jerk reactions again.

      • by dwillden (521345)
        Your mean the URL http://www.facebook.com/about/timeline [facebook.com] ? How is that generic timeline stolen from timelines.com, what you're claiming is that Facebook stole their URL. Maybe at one point someone did get overzealous and redirected any FB search for Timelines on Facebook to the FB Timeline page, but currently a search comes up with multiple hits for Timelines (including another firm that does web based historical timelines). This company is listed second after the page for a band named Timelines. the F
  • by Anonymous Coward

    This isn't about what Timelines.com does, nor is it about the common use of the word - you're all missing the point or don't understand trademarks.

    Timelines.com applied for and received the trademark on timelines (trademark number 85432026, look it up on http://tess2.uspto.gov/ ) therefore, in the US at least, they have the sole right to use that word in connection with the caveats on the mark (which includes pretty much anything to do with computers). If someone else, facebook or anyone comes along and us

    • by FooAtWFU (699187)
      Come on. This is the Internet. Surely we can complain about both!

      And while I'm at it, I'd like to complain about: how difficult it is to find an apartment in San Francisco, my income taxes, the price of gas (and auto maintenance), and ants.

      Especially those dumb ants. Someone should just squish them all.

  • Trademarks should be used not to try to destroy large businesses who come up with names that may be vaguely similar to the name of an unrelated product, but to protect consumers against fraud. No one in their right mind thinks that Timelines.com and Facebook are in any way related. Trademarks are designed for the purpose so that I know what I'm buying, for example, if I order an Xbox 360 game console, I should receive an Xbox 360 game console and no other makers of game consoles other than Microsoft (or who
    • Trademarks should be used not to try to destroy large businesses who come up with names that may be vaguely similar to the name of an unrelated product, but to protect consumers against fraud. No one in their right mind thinks that Timelines.com and Facebook are in any way related. Trademarks are designed for the purpose so that I know what I'm buying, for example, if I order an Xbox 360 game console, I should receive an Xbox 360 game console and no other makers of game consoles other than Microsoft (or who are affiliated with Microsoft) can make a console called the Xbox 360.

      This is definitely the benefit of trademarks to society. Of course, like copyrights and patents, the core concept is abused to the point that it has a negative impact, favoring corporations and wealthy individuals.

  • by AmberBlackCat (829689) on Saturday October 01, 2011 @09:17PM (#37580974)
    I think, if anybody should sue them, it should be Twitter. The current Facebook setup seems like a complete ripoff of twitter's style, with its "[X] new stories" bar at the top that you click on to see recent posts. If it's worthwhile to sue over a black rounded rectangle, this seems worth suing over too.
  • Dumbest trademark suit since Monster sued Disney over "Monsters, Inc".

    • by Anonymous Coward

      While the reasoning behind that sounds stupid, the fact that the lawsuit existed is kind of awesome - no matter who wins, a shit company loses money.

    • Really? Creating a service very similar to the other one, naming it in a way that very easily clashes with the trademark (whether you agree with the granted trademark or not), and even taking the url the other company was using to bring in their traffic and instead using it to access facebook's timeline functionality is just as dumb as Monster suing Disney over Monsters, Inc?

      You don't get out much.

      • by russotto (537200)

        Really? Creating a service very similar to the other one, naming it in a way that very easily clashes with the trademark (whether you agree with the granted trademark or not), and even taking the url the other company was using to bring in their traffic and instead using it to access facebook's timeline functionality is just as dumb as Monster suing Disney over Monsters, Inc?

        Yep. Because "timeline", in the sense of a sequence of events arranged in chronological order, is generic. As is "monster", in the s

  • I mean, attach the word "infringement" to any story, and the marketing people will go nuts! Facebook's lawyers will quickly figure out whether there is any merit to the case, and either change their word or kill Timelines' TM registration. My guess is that Timelines.com knows they're dead meat already, and they're just trying to get a little more VC money before the axe falls.
  • On one hand, we have some unknown company with egos generous enough to consider a common English word their property; on the other, we have a company that has outright stated their users aren't their customers, but their product.

    I'm rooting for the lawyers on this one. Bleed 'em both dry.

  • by mysidia (191772) * on Sunday October 02, 2011 @08:50AM (#37583008)

    At the top of their page they have a "Find us on Facebook" link....

    So they're using Facebook for their own commercial gain, and now trying to sue them...... what Facebook doesn't have a clause in their TOU about giving FB a license to use their mark?

    Maybe Facebook should exercise their right to "turn off" timelines's FB page as a retaliatory measure :)

  • by poofmeisterp (650750) on Sunday October 02, 2011 @11:06AM (#37583608) Journal

    If I enter my last name.com, meaning "strong.com", it redirects to http://www.wellsfargoadvantagefunds.com/ [wellsfargo...efunds.com].

    Should I sue because it tarnishes my name, even though it is completely unrelated based on use and classification?

    Give me a break. They want money. :)

  • Isn't it too descriptive to be a trademark to begin with?

Loan-department manager: "There isn't any fine print. At these interest rates, we don't need it."

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