Friday, November 5, 2010

The latest Facebook trademark dispute - Lamebook

Facebook’s aggressive trademark enforcement efforts against any third party use of trademarks using “–book” (or “face-“) have been well documented in the media (most recently, Teachbook) (articles here, here, and here among many). A review of the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board filings by Facebook also documents the number of trademark applications involving the word “book” or “face” that Facebook has opposed.

Yesterday, the website Lamebook, which prides itself on finding and reposting amusing pictures and status updates (along with “other gems”) found on social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter, decided to be proactive and filed a declaratory judgment action in the face of a cease and desist letter from Facebook seeking a declaration of non-infringement and non-dilution. See Lamebook, LLC v. Facebook, Inc., Case No. 10-cv-00833 (W.D. Tex. November 4, 2010). Techcrunch reports on the lawsuit (and provides a copy of the complaint).

Lamebook’s position is that its use of the mark Lamebook is protectable parody. So naturally, Facebook’s position will be that its mark is famous (not an unreasonable position) and that this mark causes a likelihood of dilution (ask Louis Vuitton about the viability of this position). Of course, as described in this prior blog post regarding a different parody mark, the online nature of the services offered by both Facebook and Lamebook may make the case more suitable for a traditional likelihood of confusion analysis.

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