Facebook Trademark Dispute Over “Timelines” Headed to Trial.

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.

How Can I Help?

If you, or someone you know, need any help with Intellectual Property issues, from filing a patent, trademark or copyright, or just need advice regarding how best to protect your inventions, ideas or your brand, please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation at nvantreeck@usip.com or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

This is going to be one of those legendary fakes that never die.

If you belong to the Facebook, you likely saw the fake copyright notice that has been circulating on the social media network. The notice purports to restrict the use of user content, including pictures and posts, under U.S. copyright laws. It encourages others to post the notice on their own Facebook pages in order to protect their information.

Below is a brief portion of one the notices:

 In response to the new Facebook guidelines, I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, illustrations, graphics, comics, paintings, photos, and videos, etc. (as a result of the Berne Convention). For any and all commercial use of the above my written consent is needed at all times!

While the notice is full of legal inaccuracies that a copyright attorney would quickly spot, many Facebook users were duped. Facebook even posted a statement in the “Fact Check” section of its website confirming that the copyright notice is simply a hoax. It explained that Facebook had not changed its policies, stating: “There is a rumor circulating that Facebook is making a change related to ownership of users’ information or the content they post to the site. This is false.”

The bottom-line is that the post has no legal effect. Rather, Facebook and its users are bound by the company’s Terms of Service and Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, which clearly state that users own all of the content and information posted to the social media network.

As detailed in those documents, “For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (IP content), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.”

The Facebook hoax provides further credence to the old adage, “Don’t trust everything you read online.” For accurate and detailed legal advice about protected your copyrighted content online, I encourage you to contact

How Can I Help?

The Facebook hoax provides further credence to the old adage, “Don’t trust everything you read online.” For accurate and detailed legal advice about protected your copyrighted content online, I encourage you to contact me for a free 30 minute consultation at nvantreeck@usip.com or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California. As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Protecting Your Intellectual Property in a Social Media World

Protecting your intellectual property, for many people, companies and organizations, requires changing business strategies to address the importance of social media.  What do you do if your copyrighted images are being used on Facebook or Twitter without your permission? Has someone else staked a claim to your brand or company name on its social media page?

                           

It is important for all businesses to adopt an intellectual property protection strategy specifically designed to address these, and other, social media concerns.  In this post we will discuss a few important issues.

Copyright and trademarks laws apply to social media.

When it comes to trademarks, the law offers the same protections for social media as it does for other areas.  That means you can prevent someone else in a similar line of business as yours from using your trademarked brand or product name in social media.  You should consider protecting your trademark (and any permutations of your trademark) as your Twitter handle, your Facebook URL/page and your domain name as soon as possible can help prevent trademark violations.

Copyright infringement is also a concern on social media. Photography or website content is being used on social media without permission.  Copyright owners can elect to pursue a copyright infringement action.  However, to minimize costs, a strongly worded cease and desist letter often remedies the situation.

Monitoring social media for infringement must be a priority.

Social media also requires careful monitoring.  This can be difficult given the speed at which information is exchanged. There are tools available to help you monitor social media for certain key terms like company name or brand.

There are legal options available to stop infringement.

If you discover your copyright or trademark rights have been violated, there are a number of legal options available.  Social media sites like Twitter and Facebook have established complaint procedures. As noted above, it is also possible to contact the infringer directly and request them to remove the illegal content.

In some circumstances, these tactics may not be successful and a lawsuit may be your best option. In these cases, you should always consult with an experienced intellectual property attorney.

How I Can Help

I understand the challenges faced by businesses and individuals seeking to protect their valuable intellectual property and I can work with you to come up with a plan that meets your IP, financial, budgetary and business goals.

If you need help protecting a patent, copyright or trademark, foreign or domestic, or know someone that can use my help, please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation at nvantreeck@usip.com or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities.  Connect with me on Google +

Norman