Mercks Get Mixed Up In Facebook | December 5, 2011 Issue - Vol. 89 Issue 49 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 89 Issue 49 | p. 9 | News of The Week
Issue Date: December 5, 2011

Mercks Get Mixed Up In Facebook

Germany’s Merck sues social-networking website for confusing it with U.S.-based Merck.
Department: Business
Keywords: social media, pharmaceuticals, facebook

Although Merck KGaA and Merck & Co. have been separate companies since the Treaty of Versailles 92 years ago, they still get mixed up. This time the confusion was on Facebook, the social-networking website.

Merck KGaA, which is based in Germany, took steps late last month against Facebook after finding that Merck & Co. in the U.S. was using for its Facebook page. The German firm said it has had an agreement with Facebook for that URL since March 2010.

Unable to get an adequate response from the site’s operations support staff, Merck KGaA filed a legal petition to get Facebook to disclose why the URL was no longer under its control. “Because Facebook is an important marketing device, the page is of great value to Merck, and its misappropriation is causing harm to Merck,” wrote attorney Robert B. G. Horowitz on behalf of the firm.

Facebook has apologized to the two companies after concluding that it erred in allowing Merck & Co., which isn’t involved in the legal action, to use the URL, says a spokesman for the U.S. firm.

But rather than give the URL back to the German firm, Facebook has decommissioned it entirely and is leaving it to the two Mercks to work things out. Using a more generic URL, Merck & Co.’s Facebook page is still active. In fact, since news of the mix-up emerged, the number of followers of the U.S. firm has jumped about 50%, the most growth since the page was launched in September, the spokesman says.

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