Merck KGaA has applied for a court order to receive information from Facebook after the German drugs giant claims to have discovered that the social networking site had allegedly allowed its American pharmaceutical rival under the same name to have the German company’s Facebook page instead.
There are two totally independent Merck companies. This arose out of the Treaty of Versailles at the end of World War I, under which the two different Merck companies were each given exclusive rights to the brand in different territories.
German Merck claims that it held the rights to material on the web page at www.facebook.com/merck, but it has recently discovered that those rights were now being allocated to the US company. German Merck has no argument with US Merck – its complaint is with the social networking site, which it claims has been less than helpful over the issue.
This case shows the issues that can arise with owners of parallel brands existing in an ever-smaller global market.