Facebook gets to keep its 'Timeline' following trademark settlement

A trademark dispute between the social network and a small Chicago company has been settled

Facebook has reached an agreement with the company Timelines Inc. to settle a trademark infringement lawsuit over the social network's use of the name Timeline.

The agreement was disclosed Thursday in Facebook's quarterly report filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The cost of the settlement was not clarified, though it "was not material to our business, financial condition, or results of operations," Facebook said.

Timelines, a website for recording and sharing history, filed a complaint against Facebook in September 2011 and sought a restraining order to bar Facebook from offering its Timeline service, the personal profile section of the Facebook's site, arguing that the feature was causing "irreparable harm" to its business.

The case had been scheduled to go to trial before a jury on April 22, after a judge refused Facebook's request for a summary judgment on each of the plaintiff's claims, according to records of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division.

The Chicago-based Timelines company was set up in January 2007 and launched its Timelines.com website in 2009. It owns federal trademark registration numbers for "Timelines," "Timelines.com" and its "Timelines" design mark, court papers said.

The Timelines.com site is designed to help people record, discover and share events and history "in unexpected and unique ways," the company says. For example, users can document certain historical events with descriptions, photos and videos, which can be shared with other Timelines.com users who can contribute their own information to the listing.

Facebook rolled out its Timeline feature in September 2011.

Neither Facebook nor Timelines could be immediately reached to comment on the settlement.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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