Lamebook pokes Facebook: you’ve been served

Lamebook is suing Facebook. Yes. You read that correctly. Lamebook, a website which allows users to submit memorable (ie humiliating, embarrassing or funny) Facebook status updates and wall  posts, is taking a pre-emptive strike against the social networking giant.

Back in March, Facebook threatened to sue Lamebook for infringement of its trademark FACEBOOK, believing that it was likely that there would be confusion between the LAMEBOOK mark and the FACEBOOK mark.  Lamebook decided to do something about it and filed for a declaratory judgment in Austin, Texas that there was no such infringement.

Lamebook’s website deliberately takes on the Facebook layout and colour scheme.  Users are not only able to submit interesting Facebook content, but also comment on it.  I’ve taken one for the team and road-tested the site.  Here’s a bit of a taster of Facebook posts submitted to the site:

  • Kelli: “history is stupid and doesn’t make since, just found out today that ben franklin, george washington, and william einstein were not presidents”
  • Timmy: “50 cent used to be the man…what happened to him?” Albert: “he lost 45 cents and turned into nickelback”; and
  • Hope: “can’t wait to go to new york.” Tessa: “my fav! are you going to the city or country???”

The site was founded by two Texan graphic designers, Jonathan Standefer and Matthew Genitempo, who have described the site as serving “a humorous parody of the Facebook website and the role it plays in society.” Lamebook claims that the website is an obvious parody and is therefore protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution.

It is Facebook’s belief that the Lamebook website does not constitute a parody because the crucial element of the parody defence in America is that the secondary work must comment or otherwise criticise the original work.  Facebook claims that Lamebook comments on the authors of the status updates and wall posts, and not Facebook itself.  In Australia there exists a defence of fair dealing for the purpose of parody or satire, however Australian courts are yet to rule on what elements are required for a work to constitute a parody.

The result will be interesting as Lamebook is just one in a long list of websites which have been threatened by Facebook with litigation because their names contain “face” or “book”.  Teachbook, Placebook and Faceporn have each faced Facebook’s wrath in recent months, and only Teachbook appears to still be running under its controversial name.  Lamebook will have to gear up for a fight if it wants to keep its name, and in this vein Lamebook is attempting to obtain donations for its legal fund on its website.  According to Lamebook, “Facebook didn’t get the joke. They’ve decided to pick on the little guys: small business owners who seem to be no match for a multi-billion dollar behemoth. But this is one website that’s not going down without a fight.”

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