SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge has denied Facebook's request to expedite discovery requests in learning the identities of about 100 affiliates of FriendFinder-owned FacebookOfSex.com.
U.S. District Judge Donny Ryu on Friday ruled that Facebook hadn't demonstrated good cause for expedited discovery and that "its discovery requests are so broad as to be implausibly tailored for the sole purposes of discerning unnamed defendants’ identities and crafting a motion for preliminary injunction."
"[Facebook] may obtain discovery to identify unnamed defendants during the normal course of discovery," Ryu wrote.
FriendFinder and its affiliates have been the focus of an infringement claim by the mainstream social network giant since Facebook filed suit in April.
In the suit, Facebook says the name of FriendFinder's Traffic Cat site, FacebookOfSex.com, is too similar to its own trademarked name and it seeked expedited discovery to accelerate a more complete evidentiary record relative to alleged infringing uses of its trademark.
In a motion to nix Facebook's request, FriendFinder counsel Floyd Mandell of Katten Muchin Rosenman earlier said "no good cause exists for [Facebook's] proposed expedited fishing expedition to search for other entities to sue and to interfere with defendants’ business references."
Facebook's counsel, Michael Rhodes of the Cooley law firm, said that FriendFinder simply hadn't complied with its requests over information relative to names and addresses associated with its affiliate program and that talks have broken down.
Facebook counsel further said that FriendFinder continues to use the "Facebook" trademark in the FacebookOfSex.com domain, which directs users to another FriendFinder site, XMatch.com, and that the company continues to benefit from accepting traffic from the John Doe defendants’ infringing sites.
After the suit's filing FriendFinder removed most of the content, leaving a login screen for existing members to log in to their accounts.
Facebook asked the court for expedited relief because it said it intends to pursue a motion for a preliminary injunction against all defendants, which have been difficult to identify because many use a proxy service domain registration that masks their identities.
In its original suit filed in April at U.S. District Court in San Francisco, Facebook says FacebookOfSex.com " is a blatant attempt ... to hijack Facebook's fame for illicit financial gain."