Plug Pulled on Power.com’s Facebook Countersuit

PowerComLogo.jpgJudge Jeremy Fogel of the United States District Court for Northern California pulled the plug on a countersuit by Power.com against Facebook, citing a lack of concrete complaints and factual allegations, TechCrunch reported.

Facebook originally sued Power.com early this year, accusing it of scraping data and storing use credentials, according to TechCrunch.
Inside Facebook reported that Power.com feels that it should be allowed to scrape and store user data because doing so is “common industry practice,” Facebook’s own terms of service say it doesn’t own user data and Facebook’s behavior in not allowing it to do so is “anticompetitive.”

Power.com vowed to fight on in a statement released to TechCrunch:

Earlier in the case, Judge Fogel granted Power’s motion to require Facebook to provide a more detailed pleading of its claims. Yesterday’s order essentially does the same thing with respect to Power’s counterclaims and affirmative defenses. The Court determined that Power’s pleading did not provide enough detail with respect to the fair-use defense and other affirmative defenses, and also with respect to the counterclaims under the unfair competition laws. The Court gave Power 30 days, until Nov. 21, 2009, to re-plead their defenses and counterclaims with more detail. Power intends to do so.

This is a routine type of order that often occurs in the early stages of litigation, where the parties dispute the sufficiency of the pleadings in terms of the level of factual detail that is provided. Power is confident that it will be able to amend its pleading within 30 days to satisfy the Court’s concerns.

Power’s answer and counter-complaint contains a seven-and-a-half-page “Introduction and Background” narrative untethered to any specific claim. The claims themselves each consist of a conclusory recitation of the applicable legal standard and a general “reference [to] all allegations of all prior paragraphs as though fully set forth herein.” Facebook argues persuasively that this form of pleading does not enable the Court to surmise which facts in the introductory narrative support which claims, if in fact they do. Moreover, antitrust claims require a “higher degree of particularity in the pleadings.”