Facebook takes ‘knockoff’ German site StudiVZ to court

Facebook takes 'knockoff' German site StudiVZ to court
Photo: DPA
Online social networking website Facebook has taken German rival StudiVZ to court for stealing its intellectual property, daily Financial Times Deutschland reported on Wednesday.

According to Facebook, which filed for an injunction with the Cologne regional court, StudiVZ violated copyright laws by mimicking its logo, features and service. The company also claimed that StudiVZ secretly used Facebook code in order to copy the site.

A spokesperson for the German website, which launched about one year after Facebook in 2005, told the paper that the case was groundless. But the two sites do indeed look and function very similarly – with a few minor style differences. Facebook, which has some 2 million users within Germany, features blue as its main colour, meanwhile StudiVZ, with 5.5 million users in German-speaking countries, uses red.

The presiding judge, Heinz Georg Schwitanski, suggested that both sides attempt to reach an agreement out of court by hiring an expert mediator to compare code from both websites to determine if anything had indeed been copied, the paper said. If the two companies don’t reach a deal the court will make a ruling in June.

StudiVZ, which publisher Holtzbrinck bought for €50 million in 2007, was sued by Facebook in San Jose, California last summer. Lawyers for the company called it a “knockoff.”

The German website’s name is a play on a words meaning “students directory.”

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