Timelines v. Facebook, 11-CV-6867, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. Apr. 1, 2013)(Darrah)
Back in 2011, Timelines sued Facebook for trademark infringement based on Facebook’s new timeline feature. Facebook moved for summary judgment, and Judge Darrah has now denied Facebook’s motion – this case is set for trial on April 22, 2013.
In particular, Facebook attempted to establish that Timelines mark was (1) generic, (2) merely descriptive without any showing of secondary meaning, (3) fair use, and (4) non-use of “timelines” as a trademark. The Court rejected all of these defenses. Highlights are:
- The Court indicated that the Timelines’ registered mark is entitled to a presumption of validity.
- Facebook’s survey, which showed that 68% of respondents felt that “Timelines” was generic, was insufficient to establish genericness at summary judgment.
- Timelines has more than a thousand users, which can indicate a sizable group for which the mark would indicate a source.
- Timelines also contended that its mark was merely suggestive, and the Court found this to be an issue of fact.
- The Court also determined that Facebook did not establish, as a matter of law, that it not use the term “Timelines” as a trademark, and therefore, Facebook’s non-use and fair use defenses failed at the summary judgment stage.
The trial should make for an interesting show.