Facebook Defeats Timelines' Bid For Temporary Restraining Order
When Facebook announced the launch of its new Timeline feature, at least one company saw cause for concern. The 3-year-old Timelines allows users to post information and photos about a broad array of events, ranging from birthday parties they are attending to notable moments in history.
Timelines, which obtained a trademark on its name two years ago, filed suit last week alleging that consumers will be confused because Facebook is using the name Timeline for its new feature. Timelines is seeking an order preventing its name from being used by Facebook.
So far, however, Timelines hasn't gotten very far in court. On Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Edmond Chang in the Northern District of Illinois rejected Timelines' request for a temporary restraining order against Facebook.
Chang said it isn't clear that Timelines' name warrants protection because names that are merely descriptive can't be trademarked.
"There are reasonable arguments that 'Timelines' is a descriptive term," Chang said in his order. "The term describes the service provided by Timelines's Web site, that is, the creation on a website of a timelime for an event."
The matter will be back in court on Tuesday in front of a different judge. Companies can obtain injunctions even if they lose requests for temporary restraining orders, but Internet law expert Eric Goldman says Timelines is likely to have an uphill battle.
"It's hard to believe that Timelines has a valid trademark that's going to restrict others," says Goldman, director of the High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University. "Stopping others from calling things 'timeline' seems really awkward."