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Gotcha! Facebook parody site pre-empts a lawsuit

Lamebook, a site that aggregates funny Facebook status messages and other content from the social network, was on the verge of being slapped with a trademark suit--so it sued Facebook first.


Get this one: A site called "Lamebook" that mocks bad and silly Facebook content had been threatened with a trademark infringement lawsuit from Facebook, so it decided to sue Facebook first. It may sound silly, but Lamebook's rationale is that it's a very obvious parody and hence is protected by the First Amendment.

"Unlike the Facebook website, the Lamebook website does not offer social-networking services or functionality to its users and, therefore, does not compete with Facebook," the complaint explained, adding that Facebook's repeated threats of a lawsuit began in March.

Facebook has, in recent months, begun to engage in legal action against the operators of sites that use the suffix "-book" in their titles, like Teachbook and Placebook. Lamebook may indeed have a point in that it's not a social-networking site and that it intends to parody Facebook interactions, but its logo and blue-and-white color scheme may ape the Facebook logo a little too closely.

Lamebook is part of the same network of sites as Regretsy, a blog dedicated to the most tasteless and weird items for sale on craft marketplace Etsy, like this $2,000 Swarovski-crystal bust of Michael Jackson.

But the situation there's pretty different. Etsy encourages members to curate and promote items from their own sites--which is understandable, since it's publicity of items for sale--and even though Regretsy serves up ostensibly bad publicity, Etsy hasn't gone after it. (Regretsy is littered with comments from readers who say they actually buy some of the items featured.)

Facebook, obviously, is much bigger, and a parody blog doesn't directly serve to enhance or promote the brand (or profits) in any way. But the company was forced to grin and bear it after initially looking like it was going to fight the production of "The Social Network," the unauthorized hit movie about the company's early days--though Facebook still classifies the controversial content of the film as "fiction," employees nevertheless went to go see the film en masse.

"It's unfortunate that after months of working with Lamebook to amicably resolve what we believe is an improper attempt to build a brand that trades off Facebook's popularity and fame, they have turned to litigation," a statement from Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes read. "We are confident in our position and believe we will prevail in court."