Facebook Faceoff

Sorry, Facegbook: Facebook Wins Lawsuit Over Domain Squatters

Lock it up. (Photo: Smedio)

Typing Facebook.com on a roller coaster just got so much easier! A U.S. District Court in California has awarded Facebook a victory against several so-called typosquatters–companies that buy domains names similar in spelling to big websites, then profit off of users’ terrible typing skills.

More than 100 domains that involved variations of the word Facebook (i.e. facesbook.com, facebof.com, or our favorite, facebookforteens.com) were found being controlled by just a few companies with names that sound like they were ripped from a Law and Order script (lookin’ at you, Domain Inc.). They didn’t respond to allegations of violating the social network’s trademark for profit, so Facebook was awarded a default judgement of $3 million in statutory damages.  Read More

Smooth Criminals

She Speaks! Silicon Swindler Shirley Hornstein Comes Clean

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Last August, TechCrunch broke the story of Shirley Hornstein, a Photoshopping fabricator who ingratiated herself into Silicon Valley circles by name-dropping nonexistent connections. Her behavior eventually prompted Founders Fund to file a complaint to stop her from claiming she worked for them.

Following that report, Betabeat published claims that Ms. Hornstein, a former roommate of TechCrunch community manager Elin Blesener, was also guilty of credit card fraud, duping at least one former employer (Giftiki) as well as personal friends. Billing statements–provided by a friend who urged Ms. Hornstein to seek help–showed that “Shirls” used a stolen credit card to buy a plane ticket twice. Read More

Ride or Die

Cab Fight! New York City Vendor Sued for Breach of Taxi Technology Agreement

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With all the excitement over last week’s decision to test out taxi apps in New York City, another technological step forward got overlooked. During a meeting at its Beaver Street headquarters last Thursday, the Taxi and Limousine Commission also unanimously voted in favor of new rules for those credit card swipers and “entertainment systems” (scare quotes necessary) in back of your cab, referred to as T-PEP. Read More

Legalese

Battle of the NYC Startups: GroupMe Sues Groupie to ‘Remove Cloud of Uncertainty’ Around Trademark

No smiley face for Groupie.

Last week, GroupMe*, the popular group messaging app acquired by Skype in late Augustfiled a complaint in Southern District of New York against Groupie, another New York City-based startup. Their stated motive: to “remove the ‘cloud’ of uncertainty” around the GroupMe trademark.

In the filing, GroupMe stops just short of calling Groupie a trademark troll. Funny, we’re more accustomed to hearing about the patent kind.   Read More

Facebook Faceoff

Facebook Agrees to $10 M. Settlement, You Can Now Opt Out of Having Your Face Appear in Sponsored Ads

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In a settlement agreement for a class action lawsuit filed yesterday, Facebook agreed to give users more control of their face. According to the terms of the agreement, which still needs to be approved by the judge, users will now be able to opt-out of having their likeness appear in a type of ad Facebook calls “Sponsored Stories,” says Reuters.

Back in December, Betabeat got a copy of a leaked document that showed how Sponsored Stories would feature the name of friend and the friend’s profile picture and an indication that they “liked” the advertiser in question. The social network thought it had a sweet new revenue stream locked up seeing as users are more likely to click on something when they see their friends’ face attached to it as an endorsement. Read More

Cordcutting

Over the Aereo: Killer Diller Just Might Help Viewers Cut the Cord At Last

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The sun was still setting when The Observer rounded the corner under The High Line for IAC’s Internet Week closing party, co-hosted by Aereo, a provocative new startup that will allow users to view broadcast content on their computers, smartphones and tablets. Off the drab West Side Highway, the Frank Gehry-designed building shimmered like a landing dock for a space ship–as if the top could twist off and whir its way into the atmosphere. Will Arnett and Wilmer Valderrama walked the red carpet. Dolled-up in pale pink, Allison Williams (the Miranda to Lena Dunham’s Carrie) took Barry Diller’s elbow as she navigated the crowd.

As the origin myth has it, Mr. Diller’s transformation from a Hollywood mogul to Internet soothsayer for this new digital era started with an Apple PowerBook. “No question that his relationship with his little screen, which is irritating to everybody in the room, has altered his life,” his closest confidante and now wife Diane von Furstenberg told The New Yorker some years back.

It was the early ’90s—right around the time Rupert Murdoch refused to make Mr. Diller a principal at Fox, the fabled fourth network Mr. Diller pioneered when competitors insisted that three would do just fine. Read More