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.

 

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Timeline gets new section for Groups

groupsFacebook is rolling out a new Groups section of Timeline today to allow users to share and highlight the groups that they’re a part of, a company spokesperson tells us.

With the latest Timeline redesign, Facebook overhauled the About page so that it’s one long page with different content-specific sections. Users have more options to show off their favorite movies, books and music, as well as their fitness activity and other stories they’ve shared through Open Graph apps. Users can also pick which sections appear on their profile and the order in which they appear.

groups-timeline

The new Groups section will only display “open groups” that users have joined. If a user was added or invited to a group but didn’t accept, it will not appear on the person’s Timeline. Closed or private groups will also be hidden. The point is to highlight the groups that users might represent part of their identity and to help their friends find groups that they might be interested in joining.

Since the new Timeline began rolling out, Facebook has also added a Games section and hidden the Events section while it addresses a bug.

Facebook hires and departures: Timeline designer leaves; 27 other positions filled

hiresFacebook product designer Nicholas Felton who was instrumental in the profile overhaul that became Timeline in 2011, announced today that he would be leaving the company after two years.

Felton joined the Facebook team through an acqui-hire deal of his company Daytum in April 2011. He is well known for his “Feltron Annual Reports,” which display detailed data about his personal activity and habits over the course of a year. He logs his sleep, meals, exercise, travel, work habits, time spent with other people, clothing choices, content consumption and more, then compiles it into unique visualizations. Facebook sought him out as they set out to redesign the profile to help users better share their lives and identities. He did not share what his plans were after Facebook.
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Facebook brings ‘watched,’ ‘want to read’ and other buttons to mobile feed

open graph actionsWith the new Timeline, Facebook users can share richer stories about the books, movies, TV shows and music in their lives.

The social network is beginning to get to the vision it set out at the expansion of Open Graph in 2011. Users don’t have to Like a book, they can read it. Similarly, they can watch a movie or listen to an artist. The latest profile redesign helps users list what they’ve read, watched or listened to, but also what they want to read, watch and listen to.

Over the past few weeks we’ve seen a number of new ways Facebook is helping users fill out these sections of their About page, including through desktop News Feed stories and Timeline modules. Now we’ve seen options on mobile, too. In the past, it hasn’t been very easy for users to update their profiles from mobile besides Liking things in the feed. Now, it’s easier to add a range of new information just by browsing News Feed and tapping a few buttons.

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Facebook profile bug prevents users from seeing Events on Timeline

eventsAs Facebook rolls out its new Timeline design, some users have noticed that there’s no longer a way to display events they’re attending or view the events their friends have RSVP’d to. A Facebook engineer says this is a bug and the company is working on a fix.

In the old layout, users could access an events tab similar to what is currently available on business and fan pages. With the redesign, which only applies to user profiles, tabs have a new look and several new ones have been added for movies, books, fitness and apps. Events were part of this when the company initially launched the new design, but at some point in the past two weeks it stopped working.

Facebook product engineer Bob Baldwin answered a question on Reddit today about the issue. He said there is a bug that events lead Ed Maia is working to fix before re-enabling the module.

[Update: Privacy advocacy group Europe-v-Facebook.org explains that when the events module first rolled out, it revealed a user's past public events, which had not been previously available to a user's friends or other users from Timeline. The group says it notified Facebook of this issue. It is unclear whether the events bug Baldwin mentioned is related.]

events-about-module

Screenshot from Matt Navarra.

Facebook gives users new ways to add movies, books and more to Timeline

open graph actionsAs the new Timeline and News Feed rolls out to more users, Facebook is providing more ways for users to share stories about the books, movies, TV shows and music in their lives. This week we found ways for users to add movies to their “watched” or “want to watch” lists directly from News Feed. Users can also do the same for other content they find on friends’ profiles.

For example, when users see stories in News Feed about items friends have added to their Timeline, they can click a plus button in the corner of the item and select a list to add it to and who to share it with. This became available for music stories last week, and this week we saw it become part of movie-related stories, such as the one below.

These features encourage users to connect with more pages, which ultimately improves the social network’s ad targeting, search results, News Feed relevance and recommendations.

add-to-movies-NF
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Facebook rolling out games section of Timeline

gamesFacebook is adding a new section to users’ About pages on their Timeline that showcases the social games they play.

The games section is similar to the movies, books, TV and music sections launched with the latest profile redesign earlier this month. It displays the games users have recently played and all those that they’ve Liked. Users can customize the order of their About page to feature games more prominently near the top or hide it completely.

However, unlike those other sections for entertainment, the games section does not include a list of games users “want to play.”

game-collections-v1

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Facebook tests another Timeline layout with elements from new and old designs

profileAlthough Facebook publicly announced a new Timeline layout last week with posts in a single column on the right and customizable modules to the left, some users are seeing another design, which is more of a hybrid of the new and old Timeline.

Blink VP Planning and Media Eti Suruzon says her profile was updated Wednesday, but it doesn’t look like the version Facebook has launched to others. The cover photo design and navigation bar beneath it are the same as what the social network debuted last week, but the posts continue to appear in a two-column layout as they were previously.

new_timeline_test

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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.
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With Netflix Social, Facebook adds another key piece to its emerging video strategy

tvNetflix today announced that members in the U.S. can now connect with Facebook and share the shows and movies they watch with friends, after a decades-old law preventing this type of feature was amended earlier this year.

International users have been able to share their Netflix activity on Facebook since Open Graph launched, but U.S. users couldn’t. Instead, they came to know Open Graph as a way for video apps like Socialcam and Viddy to share automatically on their behalf as soon as they clicked a link. This year Facebook is focused on helping users share stories about more long-form content they consume — a movie instead of a 30-second clip, a book instead of a one-off article. Netflix integration is key to building out the video side of this strategy.

netflix-facebook
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