Facebook wins $3 million, injunctive relief in spammer lawsuit


After a years-long battle in court, Facebook won a $3 million-plus cash settlement and permanent injunction against the company behind Power.com, a now-defunct website that set out to create a one-stop portal for a user’s several social media channels.

The small win for the tech giant closes a protracted battle against Vachani and Power Ventures, which a judge ruled as having violated spamming and copyright laws by sending out tens of thousands of unsolicited messages to Facebook members.


Facebook taps Ashlie Beringer as Deputy Counsel

10c65beFacebook has finally announced a replacement for Colin Stretch, who moved up from Deputy Counsel to General Counsel and Vice President in June. As first reported by TechCrunch, Facebook hired Ashlie Beringer, currently a litigation partner at Palo Alto-based Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and the co-chair of the law firm’s Information Technology and Data Privacy practice group.

TechCrunch notes that Beringer will manage Facebook’s legal department’s litigation, regulatory and product groups — roughly 20 employees. Her first day at Facebook will come Nov. 18.

Beringer also helped defend Facebook during class action litigation in the Sponsored Stories lawsuit.

Facebook confirmed the news to Inside Facebook:

We’re thrilled to welcome Ashlie to Facebook. We have always been impressed with her toughness and commitment to innovation on behalf of her clients and look forward to having her on our team.


Facebook names Colin Stretch as VP, General Counsel

ColinStretchFacebook has found a successor to Ted Ullyot, the company’s General Counsel for the past 4 1/2 years. Facebook announced Thursday that Colin Stretch has been promoted from Deputy General Counsel to Vice President and General Counsel.

Stretch will lead Facebook’s legal and security departments.

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg welcomed Stretch to his new position in a press release:

Colin has been an instrumental leader on the Facebook legal team and has earned the trust and confidence of management, the Board of Directors and our entire company. We are very excited to have him as our new General Counsel. … Colin’s appointment is a testament both to his abilities and to Ted’s leadership. Ted built a strong team at Facebook that we have grown to depend on for world-class counsel, which made promoting from within our company the clear and best choice.


Facebook settles Timelines trademark suit

facebook logoFacebook and Timelines Inc. have reached a settlement in the trademark case against the social network, according to a document Facebook filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Timelines Inc. operates Timelines.com, a website for people to create and collaborate on historical timelines. The company sued Facebook in September 2011 after it debuted an overhauled profile page it called “timeline.” Timelines Inc. has registered trademarks for “Timelines,” “Timelines.com” and its “Timelines” logo.

Facebook had asserted that its use of “timeline” was generic and qualified as “fair use.” Facebook requested a summary judgment to prevent the case from going to trial, but the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois denied the motion. The case was set to go to trial last week, but then delayed without explanation.

It seems the companies worked out a settlement agreement in the meantime. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed, apart from the following in Facebook’s 10-Q quarterly report:

“We are also party to various legal proceedings and claims which arise in the ordinary course of business. Among these legal matters, in two cases, Summit 6 LLC v. Research in Motion Corporation et al., and Timelines, Inc. v. Facebook, Inc., we have reached agreements to settle the matters. The cost of settlement in each case, which is included in the accompanying condensed consolidated financial statements for the three months ended March 31, 2013, was not material to our business, financial condition, or results of operations.”

Through the lawsuit, Timelines Inc. sought to prevent Facebook from continuing to use the term and to receive compensation equivalent to Facebook’s ad revenue generated on Timeline pages. However, it is unlikely the settlement was close to that range. It also seems Facebook will be allowed to continue to use the “timeline” name for its profile product.

A Facebook spokesperson declined to comment. We’ve reached out to Timelines Inc. for comment, but have not yet gotten a reply.

Understanding Timelines Inc’s trademark case against Facebook

timelineFacebook and Timelines Inc. is scheduled to begin trial today in a case over the social network’s “timeline” profile feature, which Timelines says infringes on its trademark over the word “Timelines.”

Timelines Inc. operates Timelines.com, a website for people to create and collaborate on historical timelines. The company sued Facebook in September 2011 after it debuted an overhauled profile page it called “timeline.” Timelines Inc. has registered trademarks for “Timelines,” “Timelines.com” and its “Timelines” logo. The company is seeking damages “equivalent to Facebook’s Timeline-derived ad revenue,” according to Bloomberg.

Facebook asserted that its use of “timeline” was generic and it requested a summary judgment to prevent the case from going to trial. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois denied Facebook’s motion, and now the companies will face a jury.

Here’s a breakdown of Timelines’ and Facebook’s arguments. Note that the case is over the use of the word “timeline,” not the design or functionality of Facebook’s profile.



Facebook and industry roundup: Marin, SDKs, Dachis Group, Perfect Audience, more

PMD Marin Software goes public – Ad tech company Marin Software today went public after raising $105 million from an initial public offering priced at $14 per share. The stock opened at $19 per share and closed at $16.26. Marin began in 2006 as a paid search company, but was an early Facebook Ads API partner in 2010, and it continues to hold an ads badge as part of the social network’s Preferred Marketing Developer program.

mobile-developmentFacebook updates mobile SDKs - Facebook this week released version 3.2.1 of the Facebook SDK for iOS and version 3.0 for Android. Both include a number of bug fixes and other improvements. The iOS SDK now supports frictionless requests without importing the deprecated headers. More information is available from the company’s developer site.

Facebook roundup: Zuckerberg, Open Graph, lawsuit, CISPA and more

zuckZuckerberg tops list of highest rated CEOs - Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is the No. 1 highest rated CEO, according to employee reviews on the career community site Glassdoor. Employees are asked, “Do you approve or disapprove of the way your CEO is leading the company?” Zuckerberg has a 99 percent approval rating. Apple CEO Tim Cook, who took the top spot last year, came in at No. 18 with 93 percent approval.

Zuckerberg supports immigration reform in letter to Obama - Zuckerberg was one of more than 100 executives of major tech companies and trade associations who signed a letter to the president and Congress this week calling for immigration reform to increase the number of highly skilled workers in the U.S. Specifically, the executives are asking for the quotas and categories for high-skilled nonimmigrant and immigrant visas to be more responsive to market needs and for spouses and children to not be included in those caps.

open graph globeUsers take 1B Open Graph actions daily – Facebook announced this week at SXSW that more than 400 billion Open Graph actions have been shared back to the social network since apps began integrating them in fall 2011. Of that, more than 110 million songs, albums and radio stations have been played 40 billion times via Facebook-integrated apps and 1.47 million books have been shared. The company says 1 billion Open Graph stories are shared daily.

FBX, Eventbrite, Marin Software and more in this week’s Facebook news roundup

fbxDiligant integrates FBX – Media-buying platform Diligant announced this week that it has begun serving ads through the Facebook Exchange real-time bidding system. Digilant says it is the first partner to serve FBX ads direct in Mexico.

Adobe shares FBX results – Facebook Strategic Preferred Marketing Developer Adobe this week shared results from its first month of targeting ads through the Facebook Exchange. Adobe says FBX resulted in a conversion rate nearly 70 percent higher, and a cost per lead more than 50 percent lower than the average for eight other real-time bidding sources, though it was the second best performing ad supply source overall, not No. 1. Adobe noted FBX’s “favorable pricing” and “lower competition levels” than other exchanges.

legalCourt rules Facebook doesn’t have to allow pseudonyms – Facebook won a case this week against a German privacy organization that argued the social network should not force users to use their real name on the site, according to the Associated Press. Germany has strict privacy laws, but the court ruled that the laws weren’t applicable in this case because Facebook has European headquarters in Ireland. Facebook says its real name policy helps protect users.

Judge dismisses 4 IPO-related lawsuits against Facebook

legalA U.S. district judge today dismissed four cases brought against Facebook by shareholders claiming the company failed to disclose material information ahead of its initial public offering in May 2012, according to Reuters.

U.S. District Judge Robert Sweet in Manhattan said the investors did not have grounds to sue because they were not Facebook shareholders at the time the alleged wrongdoing occurred. However, a number of other claims are still being brought against the social network, and the plaintiffs could file new “derivative” versions of their cases within 20 days.

Plaintiffs claim Facebook hid facts from investors and potential investors about how its growth projections would suffer from increased mobile usage. However, Judge Sweet said the company had indeed ”repeatedly made express and extensive warnings” about mobile usage trends and potential effects on revenue growth.

In a separate ruling, Sweet decided that a proposed class action against NASDAQ OMX Group for damages related to Facebook’s IPO should stay in his court. The plaintiff had wanted the case to be returned to the New York State Supreme Court. Investors say they suffered losses because of glitches in NASDAQ’s system on the first day of Facebook trading.

That case is In re Facebook, Inc, IPO Securities and Derivative Litigation, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, MDL No. 12-2389.

Facebook roundup: Developers Live, Promoted Posts, Nasdaq and more

fb icon Facebook turns 9Monday marked nine years since Mark Zuckerberg launched thefacebook.com as a social network for Harvard students. The company did not seem to mark the occasion with any public fanfare, though it is having an employee celebration it its headquarters today. Perhaps Facebook will make more of a PR push for its 10th birthday on Feb. 4, 2014. For example, on the fifth anniversary of the site’s debut, Zuckerberg wrote a blog post about the event, the company shared a retrospective of the Facebook profile over the years and allowed users to send their friends a free virtual thank-you gift.

developers-liveDevelopers Live debuts – Facebook this week launched Developers Live, a resource for developers to find news, tutorials, speaking sessions and other videos about building apps on the platform. Developers Live is an app on the Facebook Developers page that will include live, recorded and interactive broadcasts. The first live-streamed event will address the top 3 things every mobile developer needs to know in 2013, and will be hosted by Facebook Director of Product Doug Purdy.

promoted-post-budgetFacebook pages display remaining Promoted Post budget – Facebook is testing a way to show page owners their remaining budget for a Promoted Post at a glance. After promoting one of their page posts, somw admins will see how much money they have left on the promotion. Since Promoted Posts run until the budget runs out or they’re no longer eligible to be shown in News Feed, it isn’t possible to change the dates or times for the campaign. Showing the remaining budget could help page owners get a sense of how much longer their Promoted Post will run. Thanks to Kristina Allen for the tip and screenshot.


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