A trademark lawsuit over Facebook Inc.’s “timeline” feature is likely headed to trial. The social company media company faces infringement and unfair competition claims filed by Timelines Inc., which hold the trademark registration for “Timelines” and “Timelines.com.”
Timelines, Inc. filed the trademark infringement suit shortly after Facebook unveiled the new feature in 2011. Its website allows users to record and share historic events. Meanwhile, the Facebook feature with the same name allows users to organize their milestones shared on the site chronologically.
Facebook subsequently attempted to quash the suit by seeking cancellation of Timelines’ registered marks. “The term ‘timelines’ is merely descriptive of, or generic for, the services offered by plaintiff and thus plaintiff’s trademark registrations are unenforceable and subject to cancellation,” Facebook argued.
“Given the generic or at least merely descriptive nature of the term ‘timeline’ when used to identify chronologies of events and related information (or tools for their creation), as well as the prior and widespread use of the term by third parties, counterdefendant does not own exclusive rights in the term ‘timelines,'” the counterclaim further alleged.
However, a federal judge recently refused to dismiss the lawsuit and ordered it to trial later this month. Facebook “has failed to demonstrate, as a matter of law, that the marks are generic,” U.S. District Judge John W. Darrah wrote. “At this stage in the proceedings, it is not unreasonable to conclude that as to this group of users, ‘timeline(s)’ has acquired a specific meaning associated with plaintiff.”
I will continue to follow the case and provide updates as they become available.
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