Facebook has filed a few different trademark lawsuits against sites it doesn’t approve of, like Teachbook and humor site Lamebook. Some of those cases might be considered close calls legally, and both of those sites are still up. But now a much bigger company is messing with Facebook’s name: adult social networking company FriendFinder Networks, which has launched a (very NSFW) website called FacebookOfSex.com.
According to the Facebook lawsuit [PDF], FaceBookOfSex includes many of the same features as Facebook, such as profiles with photos and personal info, the ability to upload and share contact, and live chats. The big difference: “[U]nlike Facebook, Defendants permit and indeed encourage the display and posting of pornographic content.” The site encourages its affiliates to “promote the sexy side of today’s social networking phenomenon.” The website and related sites are run by Various Inc., a company that FriendFinder acquired in 2007.
It’s hard to believe that FriendFinder thinks they’re going to get away with operating a website by this name. Tech companies concerned with their online image have won much more marginal trademark disputes than this one. I predict whatever judge takes this case is going to be very sympathetic to Facebook’s desire to keep its name far away from a company that hosts adult content.
A FriendFinder spokeswoman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Asked about the details of the complaint, Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes said: “Do we really need to say more?” Fair point. The lawsuit is fairly, um, explicit in its demands. Facebook is asking to have a bunch of domain names canceled or transfered to its control, including international variants and misspellings, such as: facebookofsex.co.uk, facebooksex.de, facebokofsex.us, fbookofsex.com, facebookfosex.com, facebookofsexysingles.com, facebook-of-sex.com, and many others. It’s also asking for $100,000 in damages for each of those domains, and additional unspecified punitive damages.
The suit also names as defendants Does 1-100, who are the as-yet-unnamed operators of affiliate marketing sites that link to and worth with FaceBookOfSex.com.
The complaint contains dozens of pages of adult photos, apparently associated with profiles on FaceBookOfSex. Someone at Facebook’s law firm carefully pixellated the images, and placed discreet black bars over users’ faces.
The suit also mentions one other trademark dispute between the two companies-FriendFinder doesn’t like the fact that Facebook has a tool called the “friend finder,” and late last year asked Facebook to change the name of that feature. Facebook has declined and is asking the same court that will oversee the FaceBookOfSex lawsuit to rule on the trademark issues around “friend finder.”
» Facebook v. Various Inc. et al. Trademark Complaint [PDF] (Complaint is 200 pages; contains some adult photos but they’re blurred.)