Facebook, Timelines Website End Trademark Lawsuit

Facebook Inc. settled litigation with Timelines Inc., a Chicago-based website operator that sued the owner of the world’s biggest social networking service for trademark infringement.

The companies’ joint filing today with U.S. District Judge John W. Darrah in Chicago asks him to dismiss the 2011 lawsuit that was scheduled to go to trial before a jury last month. A hearing on the request is set for May 9.

“The parties reached an amicable confidential resolution of the matter,” Timelines Chief Executive Officer Brian Hand said in a statement to Bloomberg News.

Timelines, owner of the timelines.com site, sued Facebook one week after the social network announced it was converting its user profile pages previously known as walls to individual chronologies called timelines.

The website Timelines, which has about 94,000 monthly visitors, has held a U.S. trademark on the use of “timelines” for user-created Internet chronologies since 2009, according to court filings.

Its site allows users to create or add content to historical chronologies documenting topics including space exploration, political assassinations, wars and sporting events.

User Chronologies

Timelines sought a court order blocking Facebook from using the word timeline in connection with its user chronologies. It also sought compensation equivalent to Facebook’s timeline-derived ad revenue.

Facebook, which has more than a billion monthly users according to its website, countersued claiming the “timelines” trademark is too generic to warrant federal rights protection, and sought to void the registrations.

Darrah’s denial of Facebook’s request for judgment on April 1 set the case on course for trial on April 22. Neither side would discuss its postponement that day.

Andrew Noyes, a spokesman for Menlo Park, California-based Facebook, declined to immediately comment on the settlement. The accord was initially disclosed by Facebook in a May 2 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Each party is to pay its own costs and attorney fees, according to today’s submission.

The case is Timelines Inc. v. Facebook Inc., 11-cv-06867, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).

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