Facebook, the world's largest social network, and Lamebook, a website designed for mocking funny things people post on Facebook, settled their trademark dispute on August 25, 2011. The two websites finally agreed to disagree after a long battle that started over a year ago.
"We are pleased to arrive at an agreement that protects Facebook's brand and trademark and allows for Lamebook's continued operation," the companies said in a joint statement. "The parties are now satisfied that users are not likely to be confused."
Lamebook is allowed to continue operating under its current name but it must add a disclaimer to its website disavowing any affiliation with Facebook, which reads as follows: "This is an unofficial parody and is not affiliated or associated with, or endorsed or approved by, Facebook." Furthermore, Lamebook is not allowed to seek trademark protection for its name, according to VentureBeat.
This might seem like good news for Facebook, as the social networking giant's main claim was that Lamebook diluted the Facebook brand. One could argue, however, that Palo Alto, California is surrendering to Austin, Texas. In other words, Facebook was not able to force Lamebook to change its name.
Lamebook received cease-and-desist letters from Facebook in March 2010. Lamebook then sued Facebook in November 2010, arguing that its name did not infringe Facebook's trademarks because it was an obvious parody, meaning it was protected by the First Amendment.
Lamebook's lawsuit was filed in federal court in Austin (the Western District of Texas). Four days later, Facebook sued Lamebook for trademark infringement in federal court in San Jose, California. Facebook also tried to have Lamebook's lawsuit transferred to the Northern District of Texas, but failed.
It soon became clear that Facebook did not wish to do battle in Texas where a jury was more likely to sympathize with the two people from the local Austin who run Lamebook. On the other hand, it's possible Facebook finally realized that the publicity surrounding legally fighting a website that exists solely to call you lame is probably not the best idea.
Facebook dismissed the San Jose suit in June without prejudice, which means the case was dismissed but could be refiled in the future. It then filed counterclaims against Lamebook in the Austin suit, which is the one that was settled last week.
The settlement is a bit of a surprise given that Facebook is becoming increasingly aggressive when it comes to defending its intellectual property. Facebook still has unresolved lawsuits against FacebookOfSex.com, Faceporn.com, TeachBook.com, Shagbook.com, among others.
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