On August 25, 2011, Facebook and Lamebook, a self-described “fun humor blog” which highlights funny, absurd and “lame” things people post on Facebook, settled their trademark dispute. The dispute began in early 2010 with Facebook sending Lamebook a cease-and-desist letter to change its name and stop using the Lamebook mark. After months of discussions between the parties, Lamebook filed a lawsuit in Texas in November 2010 seeking declaratory judgment that it was not infringing the Facebook trademark or trade dress rights. Days later, Facebook filed its own suit in California claiming trademark infringement. Facebook then dismissed its case, without prejudice, after a failed attempt to have the Lamebook suit dismissed or transferred.
The parties released a mutual statement settling the Lamebook lawsuit, stating that, “We are pleased to arrive at an agreement that protects Facebook’s brand and trademark and allows for Lamebook’s continued operation … The parties are now satisfied that users are not likely to be confused.” As part of the settlement, Lamebook agreed to add a “prominent disclaimer” to its website and won’t seek trademark protection for its name. The disclaimer that now resides on the Lamebook website states, “This is an unofficial parody and is not affiliated with or associated with, or endorsed or approved by, Facebook.”
It’s unclear whether Facebook settled because it was concerned about the possible outcome of litigating a case in Lamebook’s hometown of Austin, Texas, or whether it wanted to avoid the potential negative publicity associated with the case. Or maybe Facebook was concerned that, given Lamebook’s argument that it was a parody website, the case would have turned out similar to the prominent Louis Vuitton Malletier, S.A. v. Haute Diggity Dog, LLC case (507 F.3d 252), which found that the defendant Haute Diggity Dog did not infringe or dilute the Louis Vuitton trademark with its Chewy Vuiton line of products. Regardless of the reason, the settlement is surprising considering how protective Facebook is of its intellectual property rights. Facebook currently has unresolved disputes against other “-Book” marks, including TeachBook.com, FacebookOfSex.com, and Shagbook.com.