Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Facebook sues Cayman Islands firm, alleges intellectual property infringements [International]
US-based social networking company Facebook has sued a Cayman Islands corporation and related parties for allegedly violating its intellectual property rights. According to Miami-based financial newsletter OffshoreAlert, details are contained in a civil complaint filed by Facebook, Inc., a Delaware corporation, at the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.
Defendants in the complaint are Power Ventures, Inc., a Cayman Islands corporation; Power Ventures, Inc., d.b.a. Power.com, a California corporation; Steven Vachani, who "purports to be the CEO of Power.com"; and John Does, OffshoreAlert reported. "This action arises from Defendants' infringement of Facebook's trademarks and copyrights, their unauthorized solicitation, storage and use of Facebook users' login information to gain unauthorized access to Facebook's protected computer network and the unauthorized use of Facebook user accounts to send unsolicited commercial messages to other Facebook users,” the complaint stated Facebook is one of the most popular social networking sites on the Internet and now has more than 132 million active users worldwide.
Facebook tightly controls access to its network, and implements a variety of features in order to protect the privacy and security of its users' personal information. One such security measure is the prohibition of soliciting or sharing user login information (i.e. username and password). OffshoreAlert reported that the defendants operate a website that offers to integrate multiple social networking accounts. “They have knowingly and willfully disregarded Facebook's protocols and procedures for accessing information stored on Facebook computers, and are offering a product that solicits, stores, and uses Facebook login information to access information stored on Facebook computers without authorization, and to display Facebook copyrighted material without permission.
The defendants are also inducing Facebook users to provide them with email addresses of their Facebook contacts ("Friends") for the purpose of sending unsolicited commercial messages that purposefully and falsely state that they come from "The Facebook Team" the complaint stated. The defendants have reportedly ignored repeated requests from Facebook to respect its intellectual property rights. They have also refused to cease their unauthorized access of Facebook's computer system, and to stop interfering with its relationships with its users. They have essentially admitted that their business violates Facebook's rights, but they informed Facebook that they made a "business decision" to continue on with the activities.