Facebook is being sued for using the term “Timeline.” Timelines, Inc. has accused Facebook of violating United States Trademark regulations. Timelines, Inc. claims that the federally registered term “TIMELINES” is for their exclusive use.
The lawsuit, filed in the US District Court of Illinois, claims that the company Timelines, Inc. has been negatively impacted by Facebook’s use of their trademarked name. The Chicago company has been in operation for five years and claims that their business has virtually stopped since Facebook began using the term.
Timelines.com offers a website where users can “discover, read, and share history.” Some of the popular topics on their site include wars, famous people, American history, music, and entertainment.
Facebook’s Timeline is a feature that organizes users’ Facebook events, pictures, and “shares,” into a chronological format. The Facebook Timeline is automatically generated by Facebook, utilizing information posted by individual users.
The complaint alleges that users have been confused by the term and have assumed that Facebook’s Timeline, and Timelines.com, are somehow connected. The contend that Facebook has taken steps to further confuse the issue. Users searching for Timeline, Inc.’s Facebook page are redirected to Facebook’s informational page about their Timeline feature.
As stated in the complaint, by using the trademarked term, and redirecting traffic, Facebook is accused of willfully violating the Illinois Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Essentially, Facebook is being sued for using the term “Timeline”
CourthouseNews.com reports that attorneys for Facebook argue that the term “Timeline” is “too generic to enforce as a trademark.” U.S. District Judge John Darrahs states that as Facebook had prior knowledge of the trademark, they were not using the term in a “generic manner.”
A statement by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was reportedly cited in Judge Darrahs’ decision. Upon introducing Facebook’s timeline, Zuckerberg reportedly stated that in addition to introducing new products, Facebook also intended to “punch anyone who tried to compete with us in the face really hard. You have to teach people who compete with you don’t even … bother.”
Judge Darrahs’ ruling provides that the case will be decided in a trial. A Illinois jury will make the final decision if Facebook violated United States Trademark regulations when using the term “Timeline.”