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Facebook faces legal action

German drugmaker Merck KGaA is filing a case over loss of Facebook page ownership

Facebook faces legal action
Facebook is facing legal action from drugmaker Merck KGaA in Germany after its page was taken over by a rival firm.

Facebook is facing legal action from German drugmaker Merck KGaA after the company discovered its Facebook page had been taken over by rival US firm Merck & Co, according to the BBC.

The German firm said that the social networking page is an important networking device for the firm and that its competitor was benefitting from the move to its page.

According to Merck KGaA, it had entered into an agreement with Facebook for the exclusive rights to www.facebook.com/merck in March 2010, and a number of its employees were given administrative rights to the page.

On 11th October this year, the company checked the page and found it had lost control of it to its rival and the content on the page belonged to Merck & Co.

The rival drugmaking corporations both come from the same firm set up by a pharmacy owner in the German city of Darmstadt in 1668.

The business was split in two after World War I as part of the reparations package imposed on Germany.

Merck KGaA's lawyer, Robert Horowitz told the BNC he had sent a letter and a series of emails to various Facebook staff asking to discuss what had happened to the webpage.

However, he said the respondents "either did not understand the problem... [or were] intentionally giving unresponsive answers."

Horowitz said he was told no member of the Facebook staff was available for a telephone call when he called to set up a phone conversation to discuss the issue.

Merck KGaA has since filed a petition with the- Supreme Court of the State of New York.

"We took legal action versus Facebook to ask for information why a website we thought we owned isn't ours anymore," Dr Gangolf Schrimpf, a spokesman for Merck KGaA, told the BBC. "We are just trying to learn what happened."

The court filing by Merck KGaA states that: "Merck is considering causes of action for breach of conduct, tortious interference with contract, tortious interference with prospective business advantage, and/or conversion."

Merck KGaA said it had not taken any action against its US rival at this stage.

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