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back to article Judge: Facebook must see Timelines Inc in court over trademark

Facebook has failed to convince a judge to toss out a trademark infringement lawsuit regarding the free content ad platform's use of the term "Timeline". Timelines Inc, which created a website in 2009 that records and shares historic events, flung a sueball at Facebook in late 2011 when it alleged that Mark Zuckerberg's company …

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Saint Zuck?

Rude but honest?

Punch the opposition in the face? This *must* be 'the plan' in most boardrooms. They just make sure no-one is off message outside the boardroom when the appearance of 'doing no evil' has to be maintained.

+1 for being honest. But I still hope HyperCompuGlobalMegaCorp have to cough up a substantial sum.

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Mushroom

Re: Saint Zuck?

Rude? Honest? By your reasoning Kim Jong Hirohit-un must be totally +infinity rude and honest.

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Re: Saint Zuck?

Any market where you are the dominant player is one that you want to continue dominating. Most executives would say the same sort of thing, but without being as overly crude and arrogant as Zuck.

The only way FB can lose is if they allow a competitor to overtake them in terms of features and users start to leave them. Therefore, make sure your competitors aren't standing.

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Re: Saint Zuck?

Having been in a few boardrooms during high level meetings I can assure you that they are often extremely crude and arrogant. I have no idea where people get the idea that executives don't cuss, scream and throw things.

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WTF?

Prior art?

I could have sworn Encarta last decade displayed historical events and such on a timeline, and referred to it as such; thus in this case both parties need to be punched, but Zucker twice, because...

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WTF?

Re: Prior art?

What's prior art got to do with trademark? You're thinking of patents.

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Re: Prior art?

So let me get this right... There is a thing known as a timeline. It is called a timeline and it is a timeline. Over a decade later than the example I quoted, some company trademarks timeline and gets pissy when somebody else uses it? Can I trademark "shoe" and sueball everybody? Yes, I know "prior art" is for patents, but surely there is something similar when a company tries to trademark a concept by calling it what it is, in this case, timeline...?

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Competition ?

I thought competition was supposed to be a healthy spur to improvement? Certainly Facebook could do with a lot of that!

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g e
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Holmes

Punch Facebook

In the wallet.

That's almost PPVTV worthy

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Stop

Timeline?

Prior art in a 2003 Michael Crichton (badly) penned screenplay, shurely?

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Silver badge

Re: Timeline?

The Michael Crichton novel was slightly less badly penned...

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FAIL

Timeline is a generic term

I am surprised that this has gone as far as it has, but in a way I am not. There is no way that you can argue that timeline is not a generic term. It has been used to describe the order of chronological events since well before I was born. TimeLines Inc. own filing uses "timeline" as a generic term,

It is also clear that TimeLines Inc. changed their website after filing the case, but their "explanation" that they had initially used the word "timeline" in titles for Search Engine Optimization, and then later removed it after filing the case because it wasn't beneficial any longer - is laughable. It isn't even thinly veiled deceit, it is transparent. Even if taken at their word, they are admitting that "timeline" was a generic term that people were searching for and that they were trying to capture that traffic - which shoots the basis of their legal case in the foot.

They are trying to say that web-based software and stand-alone software are a different class, and that "Timeline" in one does not infringe upon the other (so that they can explain away the multitude of other companies that have dynamic, software-based timeline products) - but if that were the case then I could create "word.com" and sell online word processing and not be in conflict with Microsoft's trademark on Word the software product - I don't think that would fly very far, and rightfully so.

So, as much as Facebook probably needs one of those "punches in the face", in this case timeline, with their $87K of ad revenue over 5 years, needs to realize that Facebook ISN'T going to be their large payday and exit strategy.

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Thumb Down

Re: Timeline is a generic term

Just because it is generic doesn't mean it can't be trademarked, e.g. Windows, Apple etc. You appear to be confusing "trademark" with copyright or patent.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Timeline is a generic term

But both TimeLines Inc and Facebook are using it for the generic term i.e share events using timelines

MS didn't try to trade mark Windows for Windows that you can see through and Apple didn't trademark Apple for a tasty green or red fruit you can eat

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Re: Timeline is a generic term

"Timeline" is generic and non-distinctive, unless we're using it

- Mark Zuck

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Holmes

Re: Timeline is a generic term

One interesting thing is if you talk with a Microsoft employee, they don't refer to it as Word, but as Microsoft Word™. That is, the name includes Microsoft in it in order to make it unique enough to be a trademark. Same for Microsoft Windows™, Microsoft Office™, etc. How they pronounce out loud the little ™, however, I'll never know.

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FAIL

Again rich is poor

Yet another fantastic example of people having lots of money but being very poor beings.

Money don't make a man .This last quote is more than revealing about how little the man is.

Just another bum.

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Anonymous Coward

It does seem laughable, but maybe the Judge just thought that Facebook deserved a punch in the face for being the d*cks that they are.

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Anonymous Coward

Stone me...

yet another sensible ruling from an American Judge. What is the world coming to?!

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Facepalm

'don't even fucking bother.'

Ah, do I see a potential epitaph waiting in the Facebook wings?

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Anonymous Coward

If it's a trademark, they probably infringed it

However, it's a bloody stupid trademark.

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Bronze badge

Obligatory SF reference.

TimeLines Inc? Wonderful, I'd like to book a holiday in the summer of 1938 in Mexico please.

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Anonymous Coward

Smart judge!

"...marketed its 'Timeline' in a manner that a reasonable jury might find to be trademark use."

Spot on. If anyone else had come along, offering a timeline feature and calling it that, Facebook would have flung a sueball at them along the lines of "We own the Timeline trademark, bitch!". They can't suddenly claim that Timeline is generic and non-distinctive, just cos someone else got there first.

Well, they can claim that, but it's obviously two-faced, and this judge has picked up on it.

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Bronze badge

Timelines

Are an integral component of screenplay applications.

Now, if, TimeLinesInc and fb and others want to drag it into the software realm, they'd better prepare to pay for exit strategies or profit increasing to screenplay application developers, as well as Time Magazine, and others.

A timeline is as basic as a bar chart, or a pie chart, a line chart, or a series of flags, notes, and connecting lines. NO company should be able to trademark the generic term to the exclusion of others including it in their own products. I am not favoring fb, nor denying them the use, but if their usage is too close to and trampling on the look and feel of TimelinesInc or any other app, they should be curtailed. However, to critique my own position, at some point, as more people use "timelines" by name or by visual representation, there are only so many ways it can be done without obscuring the very information being presented. Glowing orbs, slide in/out, fade in/out, and other materialization/dematerialization effects are only limited by imagination and ability of the authors/designers and the app makers.

I wonder what the Judge will say...

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Coffee/keyboard

oh noes!

Does his mummy know he swears?

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IT Angle

So... are they going to sue...

...the estate of the late Robert Anson Heinlein for his 1948 short story "Time Line," too? Oh, wait... that should be prior art, shouldn't it? Oops...

Since this is about Spacebook (or is it MyFace?), or whatever, what is the IT angle, anyway?!?

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Boffin

Sorry, feel I need to add this...

I am aware of the differences between patent and trademark law. And I wish I had not been forced to learn that, really. Thing is, in the U.S.A, it seems one can trademark even the most basic terms (like "WIndows," for example...) and then sue the heck out of anybody manufacturing, say, windows.

It's not quite the same in most parts of Europe, but still, silliness happens even here, e.g. one company having been sued successfully for having used the standardised ink colour HKS 27 (basically, magenta) in their logo by German Telecom. Now... I would love to drown the judge who had that particular brain-freeze in a vat of that printer's ink (which is one of the four basic inks you get to see in your daily newspaper).

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Facebook is always know to copy, or at times do something horrible and meet people in court with money power. Secondly. If name is not a problem, then no company can exist peacefully, Coz apple, Microsoft, crocodile, and more has to close down as others with money can copy and ridiculously justify in the end.

I would say, some people should create a site with name Facebook.org, as even Facebook is equally non-distinctive.

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