Facebook Fights Back, Says “Timeline” is a Commonly Used Word
By on December 8th, 2011

Facebook in a fight back against Timelines.com, which sued the social networking giant for having used the term “timeline” for its upcoming new profile, has stated that the word (timeline) is a generic word.

According to paidContent, Facebook claims that the word “timeline” is simply descriptive and a commonly used word. It lists ten websites that use the word, including the search engine giant Google, which offers an interactive timeline tool allowing users to travel through timeof Google’s company history.

The feature is available to only those users who have installed the  Developer  application. If you haven’t installed it yet, here’s a post which will help you Enable the Facebook Timeline

Facebook Timeline

It is rather ironic for Facebook to countersuit Timelines.com when the company itself has filed trademark for words like “face” and “book”, and has stopped companies from using it. Recently, Facebook sued Techbook and Lamebook for using the word “book” in their domains. It has also applied for trademarks for arguably generic terms such as “face,” “wall,” and “like,” according to Timelines.

Under trademark law, there are five categories in which a trademark can be granted and specified for. The weakest ones are the generic and descriptive word, like bookor fastor “fun”, while the strongest ones are those that are unique and sound attractive, such as Oreo or Spotify. Courts have the power to cancel those trademarks which come under the weak category. Now, Facebook has asked the court to declare that Facebook is not infringingand to cancel the trademark for the word timelinesince it falls in the generic category.

The suit by Timelines.com claims that it would affect the services provided by their company if Facebook makes use of the word “timeline” -

Facebook – a company that has applied for or trademarked the terms Face,Wall,and Like,as well as sued others for using Bookin their names – is using the name timelinefor 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 U.S. 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.

A temporary order was imposed on Facebook to stop the roll out of the new profile to all users, but to make it available for developers only. However, now that the order has expired, Facebook has started to roll out the timeline feature to a majority number of users in New Zealand, starting yesterday. If Facebook continues to launch the feature in the U.S and other countries, then it might face heavy charges and may have to change the new profile’s name.


Facebook had scheduled to roll out the Timeline feature on September 22, but it was pushed back after a trademark lawsuit. The timeline was expected to go live on November 7, but looks like Facebook and its users have to wait a little longer.

Timelines.com has a help-us-fight-Facebook  message  on its homepage, which is  represented by media law powerhouse Reed Smith. The company also hopes “that Facebook will realize that it made a mistake and that it needs to make things right.

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Author: Joel Fernandes Google Profile for Joel Fernandes
Joel Fernandes (G+) is a tech enthusiast and a social media blogger. During his leisure time, he enjoys taking photographs, and photography is one of his most loved hobbies. You can find some of his photos on Flickr. He does a little of web coding, and maintains a tech blog of his own - Techo Latte. Joel is currently pursuing his Masters in Computer Application from Bangalore, India. You can get in touch with him on Twitter - @joelfernandes, or visit his Facebook Profile for more information.

Joel Fernandes has written and can be contacted at joel@techie-buzz.com.

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