Bloomberg News

Merck & Co. Accused in Merck KGaA Suit of Swiping Facebook Page

November 29, 2011

Nov. 23 (Bloomberg) -- German drugmaker Merck KGaA asked a New York judge to force Facebook Inc. to produce information about an alleged takeover of its page on the social networking site by its U.S.-based competitor Merck & Co.

Merck KGaA, based in Darmstadt, Germany, wants the information from Facebook as it considers a possible lawsuit for breach of contract or interference with business against an unspecified defendant, according to a filing in state court in New York.

The German company said it made an agreement with Facebook last year for exclusive use of the www.facebook.com/merck Web page. Last month, Merck KGaA saw that the page’s content was related to its U.S. competitor, according to the Nov. 21 filing. The Web page currently refers to Merck & Co., the Whitehouse Station, New Jersey-based drugmaker.

Merck KGaA said Facebook “had not been cooperative” in attempts to seek information about the change.

David Caouette and Ronald Rogers, spokesmen for Merck & Co., didn’t immediately respond to e-mails seeking comment. Merck KGaA’s media-relations team didn’t respond to an e-mail sent yesterday after regular business hours in Europe. An e-mail to Palo Alto, California-based Facebook’s press department didn’t receive an immediate response.

The two Mercks became separate companies, each owning rights to the trademark in different geographical areas, under the Treaty of Versailles as part of Germany’s reparations following World War I, according to the filing.

The case is In the matter of the application of Merck KGaA, 11113215-2011, Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of New York (Manhattan).

--With assistance from Chris Dolmetsch in New York and Molly Peterson in Washington. Editors: Andrew Dunn, Mary Romano

To contact the reporter on this story: Don Jeffrey in New York at djeffrey1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net


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