As we have discussed, parodies are often safe from trademark infringement claims. The dangers of a person confusing an actual product with a parody are a lot less than someone selling imitations that closely resemble the actual product. Two internet sites – the parody site Lamebook.com and the ubiquitous Facebook.com – recently squared off over their names and content.
Starting in March of last year, Facebook began sending cease-and-desist letters to Lamebook. Lamebook filed a lawsuit in federal court in Texas seeking a declaration from the court that the name “Lamebook” did not infringe on the Facebook trademark. In response, Facebook filed its own lawsuit in federal court in California claiming trademark infringement. Facebook eventually withdrew its California lawsuit and filed its counterclaims in the Texas case. In late August, however, the two sides reached a deal and dismissed the case.
Lamebook gets to keep its name, but it now includes a disclaimer on its site warning internet users that the site is not affiliated with the actual Facebook site. Additionally, Lamebook agreed to not seek trademark protection for its name.
This may be the end for Lamebook, but Facebook has several ongoing lawsuits against other “-book” suffix websites, including a site for teachers, Teachbook. What do you think Facebook’s odds are of prevailing in these other suits? Is anything ending in –book an infringement on Facebook’s name and popularity? It sounds a lot like Apple’s struggles to protect phrases involving “app.”