Did Timelines.com lawsuit delay Facebook Timeline launch?

Timelines.com may have managed to delay Facebook's Timeline feature launch with its trademark and claim that the social networking will "eliminate" the small company.
Written by Emil Protalinski, Contributor

Late last week, US federal judge Edmond Chang refused to grant a temporary restraining order (TRO) to Timelines.com, which filed a lawsuit claiming Facebook's new Timeline feature may "eliminate" the Chicago-based company. At first glance, this seems to imply that Facebook will not have to delay its Timeline launch unless the court finds the social networking giant guilty of a trademark violation.

In the original complaint, Timelines.com noted it is seeking damages and a TRO which would block Facebook's Timeline feature from rolling out during the time it takes for the case to go to trial. Facebook reportedly assured that it would not proceed with a full launch of Timeline until the parties meet again in court tomorrow when they will make more detailed arguments before another federal judge, according to paidContent.

Whether there has been a delay or not depends on your definition. Facebook never publicly stated a date for Timeline's release (it merely said it would launch in the coming weeks), but numerous developers noted that they previously received a message from Facebook saying that the product would launch on September 29. Obviously this hasn't happened. The new date could be any time after October 4.

Regardless, the judge's order also said Timelines can try again to stop the launch. Chang revealed that Facebook's new service already has 1.1 million graph developers, and that between 100,000 and 200,000 are signing up every day. He also refused Timelines.com's request to force Facebook to stop enrolling new developers, but did require that the social networking giant make daily disclosures about how many new developers are signing up.

In the complaint, Timelines.com pointed out that Facebook was redirecting users from the Timelines.com Facebook Page at facebook.com/timelines to Facebook's own Timeline webpage at facebook.com/about/timeline. Since Palo Alto has stopped doing this, Chang stated that emergency relief was not required.

Timeline.com has a trademark for the "timeline" name, filed in May 2008 and granted in January 2009. Trademark law states brands can prevent others from using their name if there is a possibility that consumers will be confused, as long as the names are in the same field or industry. Facebook meanwhile is arguing that the word "timeline" is generic.

Palo Alto will likely find a way to convince Chicago that the trademark is not valid in this case, or will just strike some kind of settlement deal. As commenters on my previous article noted, Facebook has enough money to just buy Timelines.com outright, if it comes to that.

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