Timelines Inc., a small venture capital-backed Chicago company that operates the Timelines.com website, has launched a trademark-infringement suit against Facebook on Thursday, claiming that the latter’s recently announced Timeline feature could “quite possibly eliminate” its entire business.
Timelines.com is a website that basically allows people to record and share personal or historic events, and contribute descriptions, links, photos and videos related to those events, people, companies, bands and whatnot (i.e. Cuban Missile Crisis, Al Capone and Pink Floyd).
From the complaint (also embedded below):
This matter seeks to protect Timelines, a small company headquartered in Chicago, that has been in business for almost five years, from being rolled over and quite possibly eliminated by the unlawful action by the world’s largest and most powerful social media company, Facebook.
Facebook has announced its intention to use and, indeed has already begun to re-direct Internet traffic, using Timelines’ federally registered “TIMELINES” trademark as the centerpiece of Facebook’s new product offering going forward, a move that, given the size and reach of Facebook, will essentially eliminate Timelines and leave the public with the confusing impression that plaintiff Timelines is somehow affiliated with Facebook.
In the event that Facebook is permitted to move forward with release of its “Timeline” product offering, consumer confusion with Timelines’ existing “Timelines” website will invariably result.
The suit also claims that Facebook hijacked the URL Facebook.com/timelines, which used to lead to Timelines’ Facebook page (and is, ironically, still linked to at the top of the Timelines.com website):
Facebook’s “Timeline” offering and its misdirection of users attempting to access Timelines’ offering is intended to prevent Internet users from accessing information about Timelines.com and to allow users to instead use Facebook’s “Timeline” offering.
Update: Facebook declined to comment but quietly restored Timelines’ Facebook page anyway.
Timelines is the owner of the registered trademarks “Timelines” (U.S. Reg. No. 3,684,074), “Timelines.com” (U.S. Reg. No. 3,764,134), and “Timelines & design” (U.S. Reg. No. 3,784,720).