As the excitement is starting to fade from Mark Zuckerberg's splash appearance at the f8 conference, Facebook Timeline is entering what's become a purgatory of sorts for new tech products: the land of trademark disputes. Lots of people love the look--"a scrapbook on steroids"--but a scrappy startup from Chicago did not love the name. Timelines Inc. has been using the same one for five years and, believe it or not, offers a similar service for helping people map their memories. They've registered trademarks for "Timelines," "Timelines.com" and "Timelines and design." The company filed a trademark-infringement suit against Facebook on Thursday claiming that the social network's new Timeline feature will put them out of business.
This kind of thing seems to be happening more and more in the tech world. A big company like Facebook will launch a new product with a name that's already been used by a small startup. Depending on the situation, though, it's not necessarily a bad thing for the startup with the stolen name. When Google+ launched, the group messenging service was called Huddle, a name that a cloud collaboration startup with its own group messaging componetnt had also been around for five years. Following nearly three months of legal backing-and-forthing, Google decided to change the name, but not after Huddle went from being a little known company in London to the company with the jump on Google. The free press along the way certainly didn't hurt.