In a move of utter hypocrisy Facebook, a company with a trademark for the word "face," is countersuing Timelines.com, claiming its trademark of the word "timeline" is too generic. Timelines.com had initially sued Facebook after the social network's September announcement of the Timeline. Fearful that the judge, who had dismissed the suit, might demand a restraining order after the feature goes mainstream, Facebook has now countersued, a day after announcing the official rollout of the Timeline. Facebook's not new to the trademark battle. But usually it's on the other side of the equation, protecting the generic words in its brand: the social network has sued several companies for using the terms "face" and "book." Now, contradicting everything it has fought for, Facebook's turning its bullying on its head, claiming that "timelines" is too generic to be a trademark.
The Time Facebook Sued Teachbook
Back in the summer of 2010, Facebook sued the start-up for using "book" in its name. "If others could freely use 'generic plus book' marks for online networking services targeted to that particular generic category of individuals, the suffix book could become a generic term for 'online community/networking services' or 'social networking services,'" claimed Facebook in the lawsuit. "That would dilute the distinctiveness of the Facebook marks, impairing their ability to function as unique and distinctive identifiers of Facebook's goods and services." The site said it would not let Facebook bully them. And a judge eventually threw the suit out. "Teachbook, somewhat implausibly, insists that it did not intend to trade on Facebook’s mark, and that it selected the TEACHBOOK mark in 2009 because of the connection between teachers and books," wrote the judge, who dismissed the suit over logistics.
The Time Facebook Sued Faceporn
In October 2010, Facebook sued the porn site for trademark infringement. "We don't believe Faceporn should be able to trade on our name and dilute and tarnish our brand while doing so," Facebook spokesman Simon Axten told PC World. "Where there is brand tarnishment, dilution, or confusion as there is with Faceporn and Facebook, we must enforce our rights to protect the integrity of our trademark." The case is still ongoing. Most recently Facebook failed to argue jurisdiction, given that the site's owners are Norway based and Facebook sued in California.
The Time Facebook Almost Sued Placebook
Before this one got to the courts, Facebook's bullying convinced this start-up to change its name to TripTrace. The social network threatened to sue if the company didn't change its name. Placebook released this funny-ish video before opting out of litigation.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.