Timelines, Inc. v. Facebook, Inc., No. 11 C 6867, Slip Op. (N.D. Ill. April 1, 2012) (Darrah, J.).
Judge Darrah denied defendant Facebook’s summary judgment motion arguing that plaintiff Timeline’s TIMELINE trademark was generic or descriptive, and that Facebook’s use of the mark was fair use. Timelines presented evidence that it used TIMELINE as a brand, not just in its generic sense. And while Timelines had used TIMELINE in its generic sense, it had not done so regularly so as to make the mark generic. And Facebook’s summary evidence was not dispositive as to descriptiveness. Timelines had over one thousand active users. The Court reasoned that as to the users, at least, TIMELINE had acquired meaning.
Finally, Facebook’s use of TIMELINE was not just non-trademark fair use. In fact, Facebook’s founder referred to TIMELINE as a brand.