Facebook Awarded More Than $3M In Damages, Permanent Injunction In Power Ventures Lawsuit

By David Cohen 

JudgePoundingGavelFacebook originally filed a lawsuit against Power Ventures and its now-defunct Power.com site, which billed itself as a portal for users’ social media accounts, in December 2008, claiming that Power.com accessed and stored users’ login information without permission. U.S. District Judge James Ware ruled in favor of the social network in February 2012, and Thursday, Facebook was awarded more than $3 million in damages, as well as a permanent injunction against Power Ventures and its founder, Steve Vachani.

The years-long legal battle was based on Facebook’s accusations that Power.com circumvented its Facebook Connect feature, which allows users to access their accounts via third-party applications, and that in doing so, it sent “tens of thousands” of unsolicited spam messages to other Facebook users. The court filing read:

Facebook complains that defendants employ Facebook’s proprietary data without its permission by inducing Facebook users to provide their login information and then using that information to “scrape” Facebook’s proprietary material.

Defendants then display Facebook’s material on power.com. Facebook asserts that it never gave defendants permission to use its material in this way.

Facebook also accuses defendants of sending unsolicited and deceptive email messages to Facebook users. To launch their site, defendants promised power.com users a chance to win $100 if they invited and signed up the most new users to defendants’ site. Defendants provided to their users a list of the users’ Facebook friends from which the users could choose people to whom to send the invitation. Power.com sent unsolicited commercial emails to those friends that included on the “from” line a “@facebookmail.com” address. The content of the message included a line that the message was from “The Facebook Team.” Facebook contends that it never gave permission to send these messages and that the emails were deceptive because they “do not properly identify the initiators of the messages, nor do they provide clear or conspicuous notice that the messages are advertisements for” power.com.

AllFacebook reported in July 2010 that Facebook began blocking all status updates containing “power.com,” and a test Friday confirmed that the ban is still in place.

Facebook Associate General Counsel Craig Clark welcomed the ruling (embedded below), saying in a statement:

We are pleased with today’s ruling awarding over $3 million in damages and injunctive relief. We will continue to enforce our rights against bad actors who seek to harm Facebook and the people who use it.

Readers: Do you agree with the court’s ruling?

Facebook vs. Power Ventures, Steve Vachani

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.