Time will tell if Timelines.com, a small Web company out of Chicago, will defeat their Goliath – i.e., social networking giant Facebook. The dot-com’s parent company, Timelines Inc, is the latest to launch a trademark infringement lawsuit against the social media titan.
The legal action, filed with a federal court on September 29, 2011, is in response to Facebook’s new Timeline feature. If you’re not familiar, Timeline allows users to revamp their profile page, turning it into a fresh-faced multi-media scrapbook.
The Chicago-based owners of Timelines.com (with an “s”) believe the name Facebook chose for its new feature threatens to eliminate its entire business. That may or may not be the result, but it’s shocking that Facebook has disregarded this small dot-com’s trademark rights. From a PR standpoint, suing Facebook might prove to be the smartest move Timelines Inc. could make.
What Is Timelines?
Timelines.com is a free Web service that allows users to discover, document, and share events. It’s a nice site for curating world history, providing people of all ages a wealth of valuable information. You’ll find video, audio, text and links chronicling everything from Orson Welles’ War of the World and the Holocaust to the lives of figures like Steve Jobs, and John Lennon.
Timelines Inc. says it isn’t against Facebook launching its new profile page look. Their problem is the name Facebook chose. In the eyes of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, they say, the words “Timeline” and “Timelines” are the same.
Life under Facebook’s Enormous Foot
It’s bad enough that Facebook hijacked the Timelines.com’s name. Adding insult to injury, Facebook initially hijacked the dot-com’s Facebook page, too – re-directing traffic from it.
Note: As of this writing, Facebook appears to have relinquished the URL back to the company that’s suing them. But they’re holding fast to the name for its new service. . . at least for now.
Facebook: A New Time Line for Timeline?
While the case is pending, it seems clear that Timelines Inc.’s lawsuit has thrown a wrench in Facebook’s plan. The profile page redesign was initially to have been available to all Facebook users in early October. But as of this writing, only a relative handful of people have access to Facebook’s highly publicized Timeline layout. Try to sign up, and this is as far as you can go:
Technically, Timeline currently is only available to the developer community. Meanwhile, countless Facebook fans are expressing frustration. They don’t understand why Facebook made so much noise about the new feature, but still hasn’t made it available to the masses.
Facebook’s silence is deafening. It makes you wonder if the “David” in this story has “Goliath” against the ropes. Whether or not the social media giant feels the ping about the head and falls face down in court remains to be seen. But one thing’s for sure. . .
Most people had never heard of Timelines.com before they began publicizing their trademark infringement suit. Goliath almost deserves an ‘atta-boy for the gift of unprecedented PR exposure.