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Merck Vs Merck in battle for Facebook page

German pharma company take to the courts after US namesake takes over its Facebook page

Merck & Co Facebook page

German pharma company Merck KGaA has lost control of its corporate Facebook page and wants to know how its US namesake Merck & Co came to be in possession of it.

Merck KGaA has asked a New York court to force Facebook to reveal the background behind Merck & Co's apparent takeover of its www.facebook.com/merck page.

In papers filed with the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Merck KGaA said: “Because Facebook is an important marketing device, the page is of great value to Merck, and its misappropriation is causing harm to Merck.”

It's the clearest sign yet that changes to Facebook over the summer forcing companies to open their pages to comments – a point of contention for an industry as regulated as pharma – haven't dissuaded them from using the social network.

Merck KGaA said it has had rights to the Facebook page since March 2010 (see below for part of the Merck KGaA version of the Facebook page as it appeared earlier this year) and assigned administrative rights to the page to a limited number of its employees and external service providers.

Merck KGaA Facebook page
But on checking the page in October it found that not only did it not have administrative rights to the page, but that the page's content appeared to have been created by its competitor.

The earliest entry on the page in its current form shows a welcome message from Merck & Co dated September 15, 2011.

“We would like for you to use this page to learn more about us and what we're all about. We look forward to hearing from you, learning from you and using this as a launch pad for greater dialogue within the community,” it reads.

For its part Merck KGaA said in papers filed with the court: “While it is clear that Merck's Facebook page has been misappropriated, it is not yet clear how that happened or who is at fault.”

Merck KGaA wants information from Facebook while it considers filing a lawsuit for breach of contract and interference with its business.

The original German pharmaceutical company Merck was split into two companies after the First World War, with each firm owning exclusive rights to the Merck trademark in different geographical areas.

24th November 2011

From: Marketing

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