Timelines: Why We’re Suing Facebook (And Please Join Our Facebook Page)

You may remember that we recently broke a story about a small company called Timelines Inc, which filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Facebook. According to the lawsuit documents, Timelines claims that Facebook’s recently announced Timeline feature could “quite possibly eliminate” its entire business.

The Chicago company operates a website called Timelines.com, which 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. Understandably, they’re not too happy.

The lawsuit is still ongoing – although the U.S. District Court in Chicago recently rejected a temporary restraining order request from Timelines – so there isn’t all that much news to report.

Timelines, however, felt that the coverage the lawsuit has enjoyed so far has created some confusion, so now the company wants to set the record straight with an open letter.

In it, Timelines asserts that Facebook should have contacted the company before launching their Timeline feature, and subtly mocks the social networking giant for “[applying] for or [trademarking] the terms ‘Face’, ‘Wall’, and ‘Like’ as well as [suing] others for using ‘Book’ in their names”.

The company also says that it will defend its trademark ‘vigorously’.

We’ve received a copy of Timelines’ plea for support, and have pasted it here below.

Ironically, they’d like you to follow and support their case on Facebook. :)

Why we are suing Facebook and a request for help

Much has been written and said about our suit against Facebook for infringing upon our registered trademark “Timelines”, and we’ve heard from people who are understandably confused by the whole issue.

We’d like to let you know our reasons for doing this and ask for your help.

Why we are doing this

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.

We’re not trying to shut down innovation at Facebook

Let’s be clear: we aren’t against Facebook launching this new service. Our issue is that they’ve named and branded the service “Timeline”.

We are hoping that Facebook will realize that it made a mistake and that it needs to make things right. We’re very proud of the products and services we’ve built and cannot sit idly by and watch Facebook eliminate the goodwill we’ve developed.

We will vigorously defend our trademark.

How you can help

If you believe a small company has as much right as a big company to defend its intellectual property, then we are asking for your help in spreading the word about our cause:

* Please spread the word and post a link to this page on your site, blog, Facebook and Google+
* Tweet it out
* Follow this case on our Facebook page

Thank you for your support as we defend our trademark – we really appreciate it!

—The Timelines Team