Thursday, November 18, 2010

Facebook & Lamebook Poking Each Other in Tex. & Calif. Federal Courts

Facebook logoImage via WikipediaFacebook has filed a 10-count trademark infringement suit against Lamebook in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California  (Facebook, Inc. v. Lamebook, LLC, Case No. CV-10-5048), less than a week after Lamebook filed a Complaint for Declaratory Judgment against the social network behemoth in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas (Lamebook, LLC v. Facebook, Inc., Case No. 1:10-cv-00833).

In its 19-page complaint, Facebook alleges, among other claims,  federal trademark dilution [15 U.S.C. sec. 1125], trademark infringement [15 U.S.C. sec. 1114], false designation of origin, unfair competition, and violation of the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act [15 U.S.C. sec. 1125(D)]. As reported by, Facebook challenges Lamebook's claim that its Web site warrants 1st Amendment protection as parody and satire, countering that Lamebook is a for-profit venture whose appearance is nearly identical to Facebook's and being used to lure advertisers.

In its 7-page complaint, Lamebook is asking a federal judge in Austin to find that it is a parody of  Facebook's "best & worst posts" and does not dilute or infringe on Facebook's trademark, pursuant to the Lanham Act [15 U.S.C. sec. 1051 et seq.]. Before their respective race to the courthouse, the two sides were engaged in discussions to resolve the dispute.

Although parody is a protected  form of expression under the First Amendment, it's a tricky obstacle course to navigate because the purveyor of the parody must in its work make readers or viewers think about the original work while at the same time conveying to the readers/viewers that it is a humorous vehicle in no way connected to the original work.

The Lamebook Web site invites visitors to contribute to its legal fund. "TUOL" wonders how many active federal lawsuits it takes before parties "de-friend" each other.

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