Facebook Timeline Faces Legal Obstacle

    October 3, 2011
    Chris Crum

Facebook announced its new Timeline feature at its f8 developer event last month. The Facebook timeline replaces the current Facebook profile, and is designed to let Facebook users share their whole lives on Facebook, or at least as much as they like. You can go back and add in events from any year of your life.

Facebook has not rolled out the Timeline feature to the masses yet, and it looks like the roll-out could be in jeopardy, or at least postponed due to legal issues.

You might assume that any legal issues with Timeline might be related to privacy, as there are plenty of concerns about the Timeline’s ramifications in that department, but it’s actually a trademark matter.

Timelines.com has filed a suit against Facebook over the name. Here’s the complaint (via Robin Wauters):

Timelines v Facebook

Facebook considers the word “timeline” generic, and is trying to make the case that it should not be protected by trademark. That’s pretty interesting coming from a company who has sued others for using the word “book”.

According to a report from PaidContent, a federal judge refused to grant a temporary restraining order to Timelines.com that would prevent Facebook from launching it, but also that Facebook agreed to keep from launching Timeline before another court appearance on Tuesday.

Over a million Facebook users have already reportedly started using Timeline by signing up as developers. Many more are simply waiting for Facebook to launch the feature, and have been expecting it to go live any time.

My guess is that some settlement will come of this, and users will still get their Timeline feature.

I wonder if we’ll see Twitter get into this battle. They’ve been using the word “timeline” quite a while, Facebook has certainly borrowed some ideas from the company over the years.


Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.