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Merck Threatens Merck With Legal Action Over Facebook URL 115

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the who-what-when-where dept.
angry tapir writes with an excerpt from a Techworld article: "Germany's Merck KGaA has threatened legal action after it said it lost its Facebook page apparently to rival Merck & Co. in the U.S., though it has yet to identify defendants in the case. In a filing before the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Merck said it intends to initiate an action based on the apparent takeover of its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/merck by its similarly-named but unrelated competitor, Merck & Co."
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Merck Threatens Merck With Legal Action Over Facebook URL

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  • Not unrelated (Score:5, Informative)

    by leathered (780018) on Monday November 28, 2011 @06:58PM (#38196568)

    Merck was a single German company prior to WWI, their North American assets were seized by the US government in 1917 and is now Merck & Co. What remained in Germany is now Merck KGaA.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 28, 2011 @07:02PM (#38196606)

      So the US liberated them?

      • by AgNO3 (878843) on Monday November 28, 2011 @07:10PM (#38196678) Homepage
        Yes the US liberated them much like the peaceful liberation of Tibet by China
        • by Anonymous Coward

          So not a fair comparison. Tibet didn't attempt world domination. Twice. Plus, WWI was pretty much the first time chemical weapons were used in a big way in a large war. Forcefully adopting groups like that was pretty normal in those days under those situations. Besides, unlike Tibet, Merck & Co is doing pretty darn well.

          In any case, according to Merck & Co, it wasn't the actual page but a "vanity URL" and that the mix-up is an administrative error on Facebook's part. I wouldn't take them at their wo

          • by AgNO3 (878843)
            I was referring to the liberation of the facebook page not WWI Merck stuff.
      • by Synerg1y (2169962)

        Only if they were buddhism believers at the time with beliefs about the frugality of possessions.

    • So Trademark law isn't designed to take World War I into account?

      Ya know, it was kind of a big deal.

      • by perpenso (1613749) on Monday November 28, 2011 @07:33PM (#38196912)

        So Trademark law isn't designed to take World War I into account? Ya know, it was kind of a big deal.

        Neither is patent law. Bayer lost aspirin. The US Army stopped paying royalties to Mauser over the "infringing" M1903 Springfield rifle.

        • So Trademark law isn't designed to take World War I into account? Ya know, it was kind of a big deal.

          Neither is patent law. Bayer lost aspirin. The US Army stopped paying royalties to Mauser over the "infringing" M1903 Springfield rifle.

          I recall Mauser had their patent-enforcers go and "confiscate" the offending knock-offs. I don't think that went very well.

          I guess it all depends on what you pirate.

          • by sortius_nod (1080919) on Monday November 28, 2011 @08:13PM (#38197232) Homepage

            It's not what you pirate, but who sanctions the piracy.

            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by Anonymous Coward

              It's not what you pirate, but who sanctions the piracy.

              This must be the first ever occurrence on the internet where the use of the word "pirating" for "IP infringement" is apt.

              (and yeah I know that it is lazy to use "IP" for all kinds of copyrights, patents, etc...)

            • by ppanon (16583)
              So you're saying they weren't pirates so much as privateers with Letters of Marque. I'll have to remember that.
            • by sgt scrub (869860)

              Or when you pirate. Like Addison charging people to see copies of Georges Méliès "A trip to the moon".

          • Reminds me about accusations that part of the UAV software was either pirated or incorrectly used open source. Looks like this is nothing new.

            • by perpenso (1613749)

              Reminds me about accusations that part of the UAV software was either pirated or incorrectly used open source. Looks like this is nothing new.

              I'm not familiar with the specific case that you refer to but keep in mind that the GPL doesn't require that derived code be given to anyone who asks. Only to those you distribute binaries to. If the derived work is strictly for use within an organization then distribution need not occur. So if a US government contractor uses GPL'd code in a UAV while acting as an employee/agent of the gov't then there is no violation as the military, border patrol, coast guard, fbi, etc use the UAV. If developed as a third

      • So Trademark law isn't designed to take World War I into account?

        Ya know, it was kind of a big deal.

        It would be more accurate to say that the WWI seizures of intangible personal property assets didn't take the internet into account.

        Which, you know, isn't all that surprising.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Qzukk (229616)

      In other words, Facebook being on American soil, this was just a delayed seizure of North American assets?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Any particular reason the US didn't give it back after the war or is this just one of those winner takes all type things?

    • by danomac (1032160)

      Here I was thinking they were trying to sue themselves out of business, kind of like a race to the bottom. How disappointing to find out they're separate entities.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by stephanruby (542433)

      I'm sure the American lawyers will say.

      They already have a name. No one objects to them making a KGaA facebook page.

      In fact, we even registered the KGaA.xxx domain name just so that we could give it to them, not that they even appreciated our gift -- those ungrateful Germans.

    • by Guppy (12314)

      Huh. Confused me a bit, as I previously thought the German side decided to rename themselves as EMD (for Emanuel Merck Darmstadt). Didn't realize the new name only applied when they're operating in the U.S.

      Many of us who've worked in laboratories are quite familar with EMD, they're a major supplier of chemicals to the pharmaceutical industry (and other chemical industries). I'll be there are bottles of stuff labeled EMD in some of Merck's (U.S.) facilities right now.

    • by nedlohs (1335013)

      Which means they are unrelated.

       

    • Not the only people that happened to, either. Ask Bayer.

  • Light on info (Score:5, Informative)

    by bryan1945 (301828) on Monday November 28, 2011 @07:17PM (#38196744) Journal

    Merck Germany says it had "an agreement" with Facebook for the name. Later Merck America was running the page. No where in TFA does it says Merck G is suing Merck A, only Facebook. Once again TFS screws up the headline on TFA.

    • Re:Light on info (Score:4, Informative)

      by msauve (701917) on Monday November 28, 2011 @07:40PM (#38196940)
      Merck Germany filed in NY so it could do discovery and find out who moved their cheese. It's not clear at this point if the FB page was turned over to Merck US by FB, or by someone else (Merck Germany employee or contractor) who had administrative privileges.

      But, just as FB support multiple "John Smith" pages, there are multiple Merck pages. Merck Germany [facebook.com] still has one, with posts going back more than a year, but which was pretty inactive. The US Merck [facebook.com] has it's own page. So, maybe the Germans are just clueless or confused. Or, maybe it's because the simple link - http://www.facebook.com/Merck [facebook.com] is linked to the US one (the full URI to the US one permanently redirects to the simple one), but it used to be linked to the German one. It seems to me that's something FB would have done - I doubt a user can control that. And, FB may have done that simply to point to the more active and popular "Merck." The US site has had 30 posts since September, the German one, 19 in a year and a half.
      • This just in... (Score:5, Informative)

        by msauve (701917) on Monday November 28, 2011 @07:45PM (#38196990)
        "Facebook Inc said on Monday that it made a mistake in letting Merck & Co take over a page on the social networking website from its German rival Merck KGaA." - IBTimes [ibtimes.com]
        • by Ichijo (607641)

          Easy solution: auction the name every year for a 1-year license. Facebook wins, the auction winner wins, everybody wins!

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          "Facebook Inc said on Monday that it made a mistake in letting Merck & Co take over a page on the social networking website from its German rival Merck KGaA." - IBTimes [ibtimes.com]

          Notice it also says:
          Facebook plans to make the URL www.facebook.com/merck unavailable for use until both Mercks agree which company may use it. The companies may request other URLs and maintain presences on Facebook.
          Sounds more like they did want to take it away.

        • by gsslay (807818)

          This just illustrates the folly of all the companies co-operating in the creation of a walled-garden internet controlled by a single company, who often has no understanding or care about individual company's needs or desires. The more companies jump on board the idea of Facebook being their primary internet presence, (like many don't put their URL on adverts, they put their Facebook page) the more they are handing over to Facebook key control of their business.

          This is the kind of business model that compa

    • by chrismcb (983081)

      No where in TFA does it says Merck G is suing Merck A, only Facebook. Once again TFS screws up the headline on TFA.

      No where in TFA does it says Merck KGaA is suing Facebook.

      • by oPless (63249)

        No where in TFA does it says Merck G is suing Merck A, only Facebook. Once again TFS screws up the headline on TFA.

        No where in TFA does it says Merck KGaA is suing Facebook.

        Actually reading TFA?

        You must be new here.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      As I know most here are hoping Merck wins this case.

      I,however, hope Merck wins this case.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 28, 2011 @07:22PM (#38196804)

    I hope they take Merck to the cleaners while defending their IP.

  • While it is clearly not a FQDN, does an address in someone else's domain count as an URL? It's not like they really own it...
    • Unless you pronounce URL like 'Earl' it is a URL. Similarly unless you pronounce FQDN like 'Fuck Done' it is an FQDN.
    • Out of curiosity, what exactly do you think URL means?

    • While it is clearly not a FQDN, does an address in someone else's domain count as an URL? It's not like they really own it...

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uniform_Resource_Locator [wikipedia.org]

      The term "URL" is not in any way related to the concept of ownership.

    • by deniable (76198)
      The URL contains an FQDN. Maybe you should ask your question without trying to use the wrong abbreviations. It's not in their own domain, correct. I'm still stumped by companies needing to have Facebook pages. Why can't they just have a web site like everyone else?
      • The future of customer service involves having a more personal relationship with your customers - part of that is being actively involved where your customers are. But what do I know, I just work social media for a Fortune 200 company.
      • by Asic Eng (193332)

        People share stuff with each other on social media sites. Companies want to get in on that - if someone shares info about their products, that's advertising - fairly cheap advertising. On top of that - this is coming from people's friends, so it's probably much more effective advertising - it is more likely to be read, and more likely to match the receiver's interests.

        It seems fairly stupid for a company not to have a Facebook presence under these circumstances.

  • I'm not going to recreate all the links. It looks as if "Unknown Lamer" beat me to the punch.

    Submitted by RockDoctor on Sunday November 27, @07:40PM

    RockDoctor writes "The Beeb [LINK http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-15888843%5D [bbc.co.uk] are reporting a rather complex case with potentially quite deep implications for social media.

    The case stretches back to the end of the First World War, when the well-established German drug company Merck was split up by the victorious powers, leaving a German rum company (Merck

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