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As the world is realizing, and as a top-grossing movie recently highlighted, Facebook is an Internet giant. With over half a billion users and advertising revenue figures that reach the billions, it is a powerhouse that other sites want to emulate. . .or at least mock. In response to Facebook’s growing popularity, Lamebook was developed in 2009. Lamebook is a parody site that “makes fun of the funniest and lamest posts” from Facebook by featuring ridiculous pictures, status updates, and other items from the site.
Facebook first threatened to sue Lamebook in March of this year for trademark infringement, and they have since sent “cease and desist” letters. Unlike other websites who have folded at the prospect of a head-to-head match-up with Internet titan, Lamebook did the unexpected and instead filed a preemptive lawsuit. Lamebook asks for a judgment that would bar Facebook from suing Lamebook in the future, arguing that its website is an obvious parody and not a direct competitor because it “does not offer social-networking services or functionality to its users.” The website also invoked the First Amendment to support its right to parody.
This is not Facebook’s first legal rodeo. It has threatened to sue many different websites that end in “book.” For instance, it has taken action against TeachBook, a teacher website that has not even officially launched, and PlaceBook, a travel and location website. It is unclear when the suffix “book” became Facebook’s unofficial realm, especially for sites that are not confusingly similar and serve different functions.
Although Lamebook does have a clearly different purpose and goal, the nearly identical logo (in terms of font and color) will present a problem. While it will argue it is necessary for the parody, it is going to be the biggest hurdle. Regardless, while Facebook’s bullying tactics have been effective in the past to shut down other websites, it will be interesting to see what course this new lawsuit takes since Lamebook seems unwilling to go down without a fight.
– Kat Kubis
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