Over the weekend, the Financial Times reported that Facebook had “filed an intellectual property lawsuit against a German company that it has accused of running a ‘knock-off’ of the social networking website.” The suit claims that StudiVZ copied “the look, feel, features and services”. StudiVZ is one of the most popular social networks currently in Germany, Switzerland and Austria and definitely looks strikingly similar to the Facebook design.
The filing of the suit resulted in a prompt response from the StudiVZ team:
Because we have not been served with the complaint, studiVZ cannot comment in detail about the content of the claims. However, based on what Facebook has apparently told the media, the claims are without merit.
Claims made by lawyers acting on behalf of Facebook prior to Facebook’s filing of this lawsuit prompted studiVZ to file for a declaratory judgment at the District Court in Stuttgart, Germany, on Friday, July 18. The purpose of the filing is to have the responsible German court declare that the claims made by Facebook are without merit.
This is not the first company to copy Facebook’s design. In China, Facebook has much more powerful competitor: Xiaonei. Xiaonei reportedly received a whopping $430 million investment earlier this year. This looks like it could become a long, drawn out battle between the two companies. Given the worldwide copycat presence, it may not be the last suit filed by Facebook.