Facebook Loses Bid To End Trademark-Infringement Lawsuit Around Use Of “Timeline”

Posted Apr 1, 2013

Facebook has lost a bid to end a trademark-infringement lawsuit regarding the use of the term “timeline.”  Timelines Inc. created a website three years ago that let users trace historical events like sport milestones and wars.  Timeline Inc. sued Facebook for infringement and unfair competition in September 2011, about one week after Facebook announced that they would be adding a “timeline” to profile pages.  Facebook filed a counter-lawsuit and claimed that the registered trademarks were not distinctive enough to warrant protection.  Facebook asked for non-infringement judgements and a motion to cancel the registrations.

U.S. District Judge John W. Darrah said in a ruling that Facebook “failed to demonstrate, as a matter of law, that the marks are generic.”  Judge Darrah added that it “is not unreasonable to conclude that as to this group of users, ?timeline(s)? has acquired a specific meaning associated with plaintiff.”  Timelines had more than nominal sales and over a thousand users.  A jury trial will take place on April 22nd.

Timelines Inc. is seeking damages that are equivalent to Facebook’s timeline-derived ad revenue.  The lawsuit was filed under Timelines Inc. v. Facebook Inc., 11-cv-06867, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).