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Facebook goes to court to defend 'Timeline' against 'Timelines'


By Noel Young, Correspondent

April 22, 2013 | 2 min read

Facebook goes to court today in a battle to carry on using the Timeline name for a feature CEO Mark Zuckerberg called the "heart" of a user's experience when he introduced it in September 2011.

Zuckerberg: 'Timeline' under threat?

A week later the Chicago-based website company Timelines sued.

The social network must now convince a Chicago jury that it "isn’t trampling the trademark rights of the website," reports Bloomberg.

Facebook has more than a billion monthly users. Timelines - with an 's' - has about 94,000 visitors a month.

Timelines says it has held a federal trademark on the use of “timelines” since 2009.Its website allows user-members to create timelines and add events to existing ones including those for space exploration, sporting events, battles and assassinations, says Bloomberg.

Timelines wants Facebook to stop using the name Timeline - and damages equivalent to Facebook’s Timeline ad revenue, said the Timelines lawyer Douglas Albritton.

Facebook has counter- sued, saying “timeline” is too generic to enjoy federal trademark protection .

Judge John Darrah on April 1 denied a Facebook motion that the case be dropped, setting the stage for today’s trial.

He said Facebook had failed to demonstrate that the marks are generic, “At this stage , it is not unreasonable to conclude that as to this group of users, ‘timeline(s)’ has acquired a specific meaning associated with plaintiff.”

Timelines fears Facebook’s use of its trademarked word will cause its own site to be “overwhelmed and swallowed up,” according to its complaint.

“The public has or will assume that Facebook’s timeline is really Timelines.”


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