Facebook a Battleground for German and American Mercks

Nov 28, 2011 - LegalZoom News Sources
German drug company Merck KGaA has filed a petition related to a disputed Facebook page being controlled by its American competitor, Merck & Co.

German drugmaker Merck KGaA recently filed a petition with the Supreme Court of the State of New York to compel Facebook to explain the status of a disputed page on the social networking site.

Merck traces its roots back to 17th century Germany, but the American arm of the corporation - Merck & Co. - became a competitor of the German company in the early 20th century, when Merck was divided after World War I, under the Treaty of Versailles.

Now, Merck KGaA is alleging that Merck & Co. has improperly gained administrative rights to a Merck-related Facebook page. In its suit, Merck KGaA states that it acquired the exclusive rights to the disputed web address - www.facebook.com/merck - in March 2010, but as of October 2011, the content of the page was being controlled by Merck & Co.

After unsuccessfully seeking an explanation from Facebook as to why it lost administrative rights to the page in question, Merck KGaA filed its petition in New York.

A Merck KGaA spokesperson, Gangolf Schrimpf, told the BBC, "We took legal action against Facebook to ask for information why a website we thought we owned isn't ours anymore."

Speaking to the BBC, a Facebook representative said the company is investigating the situation.

In another legal matter, a judge recently ruled that Facebook'strademark infringement lawsuit against Teachbook, a social networking site designed specifically for educators, can proceed.