What Happens When You Sue Facebook? Ask Lamebook

    May 16, 2011

How many times have you laughed out loud, literally, or, on the other hand, shook your head in disgust over your friends’ status updates on Facebook? I’m not usually a gambler, but I would bet that everyone is recalling specific instances right about now.

What are some silly examples of what your friends have said on Facebook? Tell us your story in the comments.

Jonathan Standefer and Matthew Genitempo realized that their friends were saying some pretty crazy things and decided to catalog their findings. At the encouragement of a friend, the two launched their catalog, which they called Lamebook, in 2009.

The site took off and currently receives between 1,000-2,000 submissions each day. The story, however, doesn’t end there. Standefer told WebProNews that he received a call one day from Facebook’s legal counsel saying they were infringing or diluting its trademark rights.

Standefer said that Facebook wanted them to take the word “book” out of their site’s name. Additionally, the social network was concerned that users would confuse Lamebook and Facebook.

Incidentally, Standefer and Genitempo had a friend that worked at Facebook that told them Facebook would occasionally send out company-wide emails about Lamebook posts.

“I was relieved when I found that out,” said Genitempo.

Based on the call from Facebook’s legal counsel, the company apparently changed their views regarding Lamebook. After the call, Standefer and Genitempo were actually the first to file any legal action. The two filed a declaratory judgment, which was quickly followed by a countersuit from Facebook.

At this point, the case is moving slowly. However, Genitempo and Standefer believe that the situation raises an even bigger issue regarding satire and parody in new media. In traditional media, for example, it’s perfectly okay for Jon Stewart and the cast of SNL to poke fun at just about anything. But when it comes to bloggers and online personalities, it appears to be a different story.

“We’re a parody – we’re an obvious parody… they don’t come after Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert for doing their news shows, and those are obvious parodies,” Genitempo said.

Standefer jumped in and said, “Obviously with Lamebook, the trademark, the name – you immediately know that ‘oh, this is parody of Facebook.'” He further stated, “People aren’t going to go to our site and be like, ‘Where do I log in?'”

While the two are passionate about raising awareness about the inconsistencies between traditional media and new media, they said the circumstances have been “a really great learning experience.”

In addition, they both were able to quit their jobs and concentrate on Lamebook full-time. They also have an iPhone app, a book coming out this fall, and a calendar for 2012.

If anyone would like to help their cause, they are taking donations toward their legal fund. According to their progress bar, they are a little over halfway toward reaching their goal.

So, while it hasn’t been all bad news for Lamebook, do you think Facebook is taking the situation too far?