Who Actually Owns Your Facebook Page URL? The Lawyers Are Out Again…

“As corporate content becomes more tailored and engaging, social media sites such as Facebook represent a brighter future of greater customer dialogue and interaction than the current corporate website with static content and pictures of people shaking hands.”

This is the view of Simon Myers, from the consultancy firm Figtree Network. So what can you do when you suddenly lose one of the social media strings of your marketing bow?

Myer’s quote appeared in an article about German pharmaceutical firm Merck KGaA discovering that ownership of their Facebook page URL has now been handed over to their US rival Merck & Co. The two companies both stemmed from the same firm set up by a pharmacy owner in the German city of Darmstadt in 1668. The business was split in two after World War I as part of the reparations package imposed on Germany.

A spokeswoman from Facebook said that they are currently looking into the matter. According to Merck KGaA, they had entered into an agreement in March 2010 for exclusive rights to http://www.facebook.com/merck, and had subsequently assigned administrative rights to the page to a number of its employees.

After discovering on October that the site now belonged to Merck & Co, lawyers acting on behalf of the German firm sent a letter and numerous emails to Facebook staff asking to discuss what had happened to their page. However, Robert Horowitz – Merck KGaA’s lawyer – said that Facebook’s staff  “either did not understand the problem… [or were] intentionally giving unresponsive answers”.

This not the first time that a Facebook page URL has suddenly been changed or the page removed entirely. A lawsuit was filed earlier this year over the Facebook Timelines feature, after ownership of the address www.facebook.com/timeline was questioned by the Chicago company Timelines Inc., who lost their Facebook page at the same address.

Going back to Simon Myers’ quote, businesses are investing a significant amount of time and resources into their social media presence. This dispute between the pharmaceutical companies is but another example of why you should make sure you back up the content generated on a social media platform.

If you work for a marketing agency or are in charge of maintaining your own company’s Facebook Pages and Twitter accounts, you would do well to look at SocialSafe Enterprise. With the ability to backup 10 Facebook Pages and up to 10 Twitter accounts, you can be sure that whatever people are saying about your brand won’t be gone forever if you discover that your Facebook Page has been deleted.


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