Facebook Now Controls FacebookOfSex Domain

OAKLAND, Calif. — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit between Facebook and FriendFinder Networks Inc. over infringement claims arising from FriendFinder's operation of FacebookOfSex.com.

U.S. District Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong last month ordered claims and counterclaims dismissed as both parties forge a settlement agreement over use of the site, which is now registered to Facebook.

Other terms of the settlement have not been released.

In the suit, Facebook said that FriendFinder's Traffic Cat site, FacebookOfSex.com, was too similar to its own trademarked name.

Facebook claimed FacebookOfSex.com provides nearly identical user services as its social network, "but unlike Facebook, defendants permit and indeed encourage the display and posting of pornographic content."

"Upon accessing the FacebookOfSex.com site, a visitor immediately encounters highly graphic and sexually explicit images and videos," the suit said.

Facebook further claimed that FriendFinder's launch of the site was a "calculated scheme to capitalize on the fame of Facebook's marks," particularly because they spread affiliate advertising material, including banner ads that drive traffic to FriendFinder sites.

But FriendFinder, according to counterclaims, said it had problems with Facebook's use of the term "friend finder," which it also has trademarks for.

"[FriendFinder and its subsidiaries, including Traffic Cat and Various Inc.] have tried to use the purported 'FriendFinder' mark as leverage in negotiations, asserting that Facebook must address [FriendFinder's] concerns before they will address Facebook's trademark claims," Facebook attorneys said.

"Facebook's use of 'friend finder; amounts to descriptive fair use and does not infringe Various' purported trademark rights in the 'FriendFinder' term."

With the dismissal, Armstrong ordered that both parties bear their own attorney and court costs and said that the court will retain jurisdiction over the dispute for purposes of enforcing the settlement agreement. 

The suit included claims of trademark dilution and cybersquatting, among 11 charges. Facebook was seeking a restraining order over the site, revenue from the site and actual and punitive damages.

FriendFinder attorney Kristin Holland and Facebook counsel Jeffrey Norberg were not immediately available for comment to XBIZ.