Facebook Finally Sues Owner Of FaceBookofSex.com But Still Not XXXBook.com or XXXMatch.com

According to XBiz.com, Facebook filed suit against FriendFinder and its subsidiaries over it’s site FacebookOfSex.com, claiming it’s too similar to its own trademarked name.

“In the suit filed Wednesday at U.S. District Court in San Francisco, Facebook says FacebookOfSex.com ” is a blatant attempt … to hijack Facebook’s fame for illicit financial gain.”

“But FriendFinder, according to the suit, claims that it has problems with Facebook’s use of the term “friend finder,” which it also has trademarks for.”

“[FriendFinder and its subsidiaries, including Traffic Cat and Various Inc.] have tried to use the purported ‘FriendFinder’ mark as leverage in negotiations, asserting that Facebook must address [FriendFinder's] concerns before they will address Facebook’s trademark claims,” Facebook attorneys say.”

“Facebook’s use of ‘friend finder; amounts to descriptive fair use and does not infringe Various’ purported trademark rights in the ‘FriendFinder’ term.”

“Facebook in the suit claims that FacebookOfSex.com provides nearly identical user services as its social network.”

“But unlike Facebook, defendants permit and indeed encourage the display and posting of pornographic content,” Facebook attorneys say. “Upon accessing the FacebookOfSex.com site, a visitor immediately encounters highly graphic and sexually explicit images and videos.”

“Facebook also complains in the suit that the launch of FacebookOfSex was a “calculated scheme to capitalize on the fame of Facebook’s marks,” particularly because they spread affiliate advertising material, including banner ads that drive traffic to FriendFinder sites.”

“The suit, which includes trademark dilution and cybersquatting claims among 11 claims,  seeks injunctive relief, revenue from the site and actual and punitive damages.”

Facebook also wants the court to declare its rights in connection with its use of the words “friend finder,” or deem those words have not  “acquired secondary meaning in the marketplace.”

However Facebook has not filed any action against the owner of the sites  xxxBook.com and xxxMatch.com both sites which also call themselves the “Facebook of Sex” which is displayed prominently on the front pages of there sites.

Comments

  1. says

    this is legally correct … Facebook can want to own domains with the full Facebook word inside, but NOT with common words like “face” and “book” that NEVER can become a FB property! that’s why a name like (e.g.) FaceAnswer.com can freely be registered, used and resold

  2. krj says

    ‘Facebook’ is a generic word! It was around long before the Facebook.com site and generally is similar to a yearbook or guidebook of people within an organization, like a university.

    Facebook.com is using the term for what it originally was, unlike Apple which uses the name for computer gear and not the fruit, and Amazon that uses the term for a shopping site, and not the river.

    If people are using the word ‘facebook’ in a domain for what the word originally meant (before Facebook.com came along) then it should be ok. It would be like trademarking ‘Yearbook’ or ‘Guidebook’. Hopefully friendfinder will fight this and it can get sorted out in court.

  3. James says

    How many trademarks has facebook stepped over, Friend Finder has a point, facebook can use every other tech companies registered marks with recourse, time the small masses stand up, and fight for some basic freedoms. Heck with anything ville zynga wants to own, facebook wants to own anything to do with a face, or a book, what is happening here, companies need to oppose these tm applications.

  4. says

    I think that FriendFinder is going to be settling this quickly. They’re looking at serious damages if this goes to trial. It wouldn’t be hard for Facebook to prove that FBOS (I’m abbreviating here) damages its image and mark with their site. And Facebook has got a lot more money to fight this out in court.

    This is exactly why companies like this should never go public. Because if they get hit with a $500M judgement it’s going to destroy the company. If you’re going to run your company irresponsibly, don’t do it with (general public) investors money.

    In terms of risk vs reward, this seems like a no brainer move NOT to make.

  5. hohum says

    the point about “doing it with the public’s money” is spot on.

    unfortnately, facebook itself is guilty of that too, and on a much larger scale.

    there’s another suit that facebook is in which threatens to expose that facebook’s core intellectual property is extremely weak.

    facebook was an idea in the minds of many people. it’s a website connected to a database. it could have been implemented by any reasonably skilled programmer (and there are no doubt many wish to do that… not all of them focused on sex).

    fb enjoys monopoly status through network effects (buzzword: “viral”). but there is no protectable copyright interest to exclude all competitors. it is just a website and a database. nothing more. popularity should not be mistaken for innovation. the website was work made for hire by an 18 yr old partially educated code monkey. with a shocking lack of ethical responsibility.

    trademarks alone are not going maintain a monopoly.
    in the social media space. brand is secondary to function. if it works better than the other alternatives, users will discover it and it will rise to the top. intimidation tactics based on trademark claims ultimately will not stop legitimate competition.

    social media *will* open up to all players, it will evolve to be more private and more exclusive. and in time we will see fb as yet another fad, come and gone.

  6. krj says

    I know Facebook owns a trademark, but my point is just that ‘facebook’ is a generic word and if people are using it for it’s original meaning, it should be ok.

    For example, a school or business that wanted to have a facebook of their students or employees should be ok.

    With FacebookofSex, are people actually getting confused that this is the Facebook.com site? The case shouldn’t rest solely on the fact that ‘facebook’ is in the domain name.

    A facebook (long before Facebook.com started) was originally a directory of people’s photos and information of a certain place or institution. So anyone using the word in this manner should be ok.

    It would be like owning Apple.com and preventing anyone from using ‘apple’ in their domain name from selling apples or fruit related products.

    To me it isn’t a straightforward verdict and should be argued in court by both sides. If I were Friendfinder I’d be arguing that ‘facebook’ is generic.

  7. says

    KRJ,

    If you started a social network off the domain GreenBook.com and got a TM covering the term “Green Book” when it pertains to a social networking service would you be upset if I came along and started a social network and called it iGreenBook.com, BetterGreenBook.com or TheGreenBookofGreenBooks.com? I think we know you would be very upset. Just because something is a generic term doesn’t mean it is exempt from having any kind of TM protection.

    And one can reasonably make the case that FBOS because of the nature of the content is actually damaging the brand value of Facebook.com. It’s a slam dunk case and FriendFinder is playing with fire IMO.

  8. says

    Facebook.com has a trademark on FaceBook and not on FaceBookofSex(.com)

    How far can a Company go with this trademark nonsense – facebook is becoming shameless and greedy – what will be next if someone on the street is saying facebook they will be sued because facebook is a trademark?

  9. Dktr says

    and to theonit.com…
    Yes, actaully Facebook owns not only “Facebook” but also “Face” and “Book” TM. They given to them in December 2010

  10. Dktr says

    A.-90% of features of Friendfinder.com was just copied by Facebook when started. Not just onle “friend finder” action. I can bid that 95% was copied… Friendfinder owns 10 years before Facebook starts. Only difference is Friendfinder is a dating network and Facebook.com acts as “social network” (btw…good invention to avoid they are copycats)… because the truth is the “inventor” of facebook design it as dating network at university.
    B.-How is possible “Facebook”,”Face ” and “Book” are given to Facebook.com as trademarks? 3 commons names, that will be rejected to any other. Cooperation with FED’s and CIA of Facebook.com…?Oh no! I´m just mad.
    I hope they do a nice trial and I’m sure Friendfinder has all to win. The truth is with them. And I hope too that trial makes some TM of Facebook to be revoked.

  11. Dktr says

    In my opinion, “Facebook” TM must be revoked. In fact facebook.com exists as social dating network 7 years before actual facebook starts. Was owned by Aboutface Corporation and was a public domain name used for years with no TM for social networking. Just this, makes null any Facebook TM

  12. says

    There were social networks before FriendFinder… You could argue that a directory is a social network, so by your logic the white pages should have rights to the business of social networking..

    You can not protect an idea in a way that stops a company from doing the same thing. A trademark however protects your brand from other people using it to profit or damage your business. I agree that FB getting a TM on Face and Book with regard to social networking is a not justifiable.

    But you have to understand that Adult Friend Finder is trying to use the URL FacebookOfSex.com to profit because consumers do in fact recognize Facebook as a social network. By stating that they are ” The Facebook of Sex” they are stating that they are a social network but they are also stating that their site has some connection to Facebook when in fact it has none.

    AFF is trying to leverage the Facebook brand in an effort to increase the amount of visitors who will visit their site. AFF has a better chance because of the popularity of Facebook and how familiar people are with its brand to get people to go to their site.

    I get that Facebook is a giant company and they do some things that I don’t agree with but you have to understand that these laws are in place to protect small business owners just as much as giants like FB. Would you think it would be right for me to open a mexican restaurant called “The Olive Garden of Latin Food”. I would be making some connection between my restaurant and Olive Garden and their brand. Or better yet should I be able to operate
    “The Olive Garden” as an italian restaurant even though there is a TM for “Olive Garden” when it pertains to operating a restaurant.

    The TM laws are in place and while sometimes flawed and too broadly assigned it does in fact protect small business owners quite often. IMO Friend Finder is in the wrong, you can not name your business the _________ of another business and not be gaining from the hard work of other people.

    But on a lighter note, I’m sure there’s no way that Friend Finder will be launching TheMySpaceOfSex.com any time soon. But if anyone is interested the domain is available for reg fee.

  13. Greg says

    Wouldn’t be surprising if Friend Finder knows Facebook does not want to fight it all the way to the end and come up with a court finding as to exactly how far people can use the term “Facebook” along the lines of its original meaning.

  14. says

    Aw come on. I have a college degree, worked in the medical and criminal justice systems for thirty years, I have never seen or heard the term “Facebook” any where else. Don’t you think you are stretching it just a bit. If your selling sex, just call it what it is “Sex for Sale” In my e-mail I have “XBook- Someone has viewed your profile”.. It is a scam, as I am sure, most of us want to know who is able to view a profile that has security protection.
    See, you don’t care about the people you are targeting. If you get a few hits off of it, that spells success. Oh yes, I know you are within your legal rights. I saw it in little bitty print at the bottom of your “privacy statement” “Must be eighteen” That will keep those nasty little girls and boys from looking at “Porn” Give me a break!!

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