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Lamebook and Facebook battle over name rights

By Melissa Bell

lamebook2.jpg

Playing the name game with Facebook has never been very fun or very successful for small Web sites. The monolith social network has a record of going after companies with similar-sounding names and suggesting those names be changed fast.

Placebook, a travel Web site, flipped to TripTrace, after Facebook dangled the threat of legal action over the founders' heads. Facebook took Teachbook, a teacher's network, to court, for "rid[ing] on the coattails of the fame and enormous goodwill of the Facebook trademark."

For the parody site, Lamebook, however, a more direct course of action seemed the right tack. The Austin-based Web site filed a complaint in Texas against Facebook, asserting its right to the name "Lamebook."

"It's clearly protected under the First Amendment. If they can't take a joke, and we have to take it to federal court to prove it is a joke, then that's what we are doing right now," Lamebook's spokesman, Josh Huck, said in a phone interview.

Unlike Teachbook or Placebook, Lamebook's entire premise rests on Facebook. It mines the public postings of Facebook to find the best juvenile jokes. The majority of Lamebook's postings are riffs on misspellings, sexual innuendos and misunderstandings found in status updates:

lamebook.jpg

Facebook responded to the complaint filing in Texas by filing one of its own in California. Take that, Lamebook!

"We're disappointed that after months of working with Lamebook they have turned to litigation. We believe their Web site is an improper attempt to trade off of Facebook¹s popularity and fame, and we will continue to protect our brand and trademark," Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes said in an e-mail.

Huck said that Facebook had not been "working" with the site but was threatening the site to change its name, forcing a small site to undergo a major URL change -- "a death sentence" to a brand online. "I don't know what's amicable about that."

Although it's understandable that Facebook wants to protect its brand and probably does not really enjoy an entire site dedicated to finding the "lamest" stuff on Facebook, the whole situation does smack of a popular blond cheerleader Tiffani insisting the other Tiffany in the class be called something totally different. Like Ann. And then everyone does call that poor girl Ann.

It's also a little unclear why Facebook keeps giving these sites free publicity. Would you ever have heard of Teachbook if it weren't up against Facebook? Or of Lamebook? (Okay, I would have heard of Lamebook. Full disclosure: I have it bookmarked. It's a funny site!)

By Melissa Bell  | November 10, 2010; 1:11 PM ET
Categories:  The Daily Catch  
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