Merck KGgA To Facebook: Where Is Our Page?

Merck KGgA To Facebook: Where Is Our Page?

November 28th, 2011 // 1:13 pm @

Call this the case of the missing Facebook page. Merck KGgA, the drugmaker based in Germany, has filed a lawsuit in hopes of forcing Facebook to explain how its page on the wildly popular social network was apparently misappropriated by that other Merck – the drugmaker based in the US. Somehow, you see, its Facebook page was replaced by its rival’s images and information.

Although the pharmaceutical industry is grappling with the myriad possibilities posed by social media, this episode marks an unexpected twist in the battle by drugmakers to lay claim to Internet space as they seek to find new ways to hone their images, sell products and reach consumers. Then again, just because each drugmaker owns exclusive rights to the Merck trademark in different geographical areas does not mean a little confusion will not occur.

In any event, an attorney for Merck KGgA notes in the lawsuit that the drugmaker supposedly entered into an agreement with Facebook in March 2010 for the exclusive use of a web page with this address – www.facebook.com/merck – and administrative rights were assigned to just a few people, including Merck KGgA employees or an Internet service provider.

But last month, the drugmaker checked its Facebook account and found that it no longer had administrative rights to the page and the page had content that appeared to be created by, and is related to, the other Merck, according to the lawsuit. The attorney then encountered a series of frustrating e-mail exchanges with Facebook in a vain attempt to sort out the confusion.

Lacking a sufficient response, the drugmaker filed suit seeking to force Facebook to disclose info that would explain how this happened. “Nothing has changed with Merck’s account with Facebook save for the taking of the address for the Web Page; while Merck has administrative rights under its agreement with Facebook, those rights no longer extend to the Web Page,” the attorney writes .

We have asked Facebook to comment and will update you accordingly. [UPDATE: At about 5 pm ET, a Facebook spokesman wrote back to say “we are looking into this.”] As for Merck – the drugmaker based in the US – a spokesman sends us this: “We’re aware of the filing but haven’t had a chance to review it. We look forward to doing so.” You can imagine that they are, indeed.

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