Facebook Sues Lamebook Parody Site for Alleged U.S. Trademark Infringement

Facebook Inc., the world’s biggest social-networking website, filed a trademark-infringement lawsuit against Lamebook LLC, a company that says it posts on the web “the funniest and lamest of Facebook.”

The lawsuit, filed yesterday in federal court in San Jose, California, follows a letter that Facebook’s lawyers wrote to Lamebook in July describing their infringement claims. The letter contended Lamebook isn’t a legally protected parody, as the company claimed, because it doesn’t “provide any critique or comment of Facebook itself.”

Lamebook says on its website that it posts “lame and funny pictures, status updates, and other gems found on your favorite social networking site.” On Nov. 4, Texas-based Lamebook sued Facebook in federal court in Austin, seeking a judicial declaration that it doesn’t infringe Facebook’s trademarks.

“We’re disappointed that after months of working with Lamebook they have turned to litigation,” Facebook, based in Palo Alto, California, said today in an e-mailed statement. “We believe their website is an improper attempt to trade off of Facebook’s popularity and fame and we will continue to protect our brand and trademark.”

Jonathan Standefer and Matthew Genitempo of Austin began lamebook.com in April 2009, according to their complaint.

‘Clear Parody’

Lamebook is a “clear parody” and doesn’t infringe or dilute Facebook’s trademark, they said in their complaint. The site is “a protected form of expression under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution,” they said.

On Lamebook’s website, the founders request donations to a legal fund to support its lawsuit. The site represents their livelihood, and an opportunity to “poke some fun at the world’s most popular social network.”

“Problem is, Facebook didn’t get the joke,” Lamebook said on its website. “They’ve decided to pick on the little guys: small business owners who seem to be no match for a multibillion dollar behemoth.”

Lamebook’s lawyer, Conor Civins, didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.

The case is Facebook v. Lamebook, 10-05048, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose). The Texas case is Lamebook LLC v. Facebook Inc., 1:10-cv-00833, U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas (Austin).

To contact the reporters on this story: Joel Rosenblatt in San Francisco at jrosenblatt@bloomberg.net; Victoria Slind-Flor in Oakland, California, at vslindflor@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David E. Rovella at drovella@bloomberg.net.

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