The problem with suing a company like Facebook is that sometimes people don’t travel much beyond hearing the words “suing a company like Facebook” before getting defensive about their chosen social network. No wonder, then, that Timelines.com is taking to the Internet to explain why it’s trying to defend itself from being crushed by the social networking giant.
For those tuning in late, the Chicago-based website is suing Facebook over trademark infringement concerning Facebook’s new historical update tracking feature. On its website, Timelines makes its argument very clear: “[We] aren’t against Facebook launching this new service. Our issue is that they’ve named and branded the service ‘Timeline’.”
Showing a remarkable amount of restraint considering some of the vitriol it’s faced for taking legal action, Timelines explains:
Our company owns a valid trademark on the term “Timelines” that is for a particular application, specifically for “providing a web site that gives users the ability to create customized web pages featuring user-defined information about historical, current and upcoming events.” We’ve spent years building this brand and using it in the above stated way on our site Timelines.com.
Facebook, a company that has applied for or trademarked the terms “Face”, “Wall”, and “Like” as well as sued others for using “Book” in their names, is using the name “Timeline” for a new product that is focused on how people express and share events and history online. Facebook either knew or should have known (given their rigorous defense of their own intellectual property) that the US Patent and Trademark Office granted us this trademark. People at Facebook could have at least contacted us for permission to use or license the name. They did not.
It adds “We are hoping that Facebook will realize that it made a mistake and that it needs to make things right,” but warns that “we will vigorously defend our trademark.” Ironically, one of the ways that people are advised to stay in touch with what’s happening is to “Follow this case on [Timeline's] Facebook page“).
Graeme McMillan is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @Graemem or on Facebook at Facebook/Graeme.McMillan. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.