It's Merck vs. Merck in Facebook "vanity URL" fracas

Share this article:

Facebook shut down Facebook.com/Merck after Merck KGaA announced plans to take legal action “based on the apparent takeover of its Facebook page” by its US cousin, Merck & Co.

The social media behemoth, which unwrapped plans for an initial public offering in November, has essentially told the two companies that they need to work the conflict out for themselves, saying that its assignment of the URL to the US company was “an administrative error.”

“We have removed the vanity URL,” said Facebook's Andrew Noyes, manager, public policy communications. “Facebook.com/Merck will be unavailable unless and until the two companies mutually agree that one can use it.” Either company, he added, is welcome to create a new username or vanity URL for themselves.

The fracas over the Facebook address is nothing more than a “tempest in a teapot,” according to a spokesman for Merck & Co., who noted that the faceoff has not had an effect on the company's Facebook presence since the so-called “vanity URL” simply redirected visitors to the US-based drug maker's page. Moreover, he added, it's a non-issue, since most people who get to the page find it through a search rather than by typing in a URL. In fact, the publicity has netted Merck & Co. “hundreds” of new followers over the past few days.

At issue is a pre-action disclosure filed with the New York Supreme Court and dated Nov. 21, stating that the “misappropriation” of the URL by “a similarly-named and unrelated competitor” is “causing harm” to the German firm.

“All I can tell you,” a Merck KGaA spokesman said, “is we are looking into the matter.”
Share this article:
You must be a registered member of MMM to post a comment.
close

Next Article in Features

Email Newsletters

More in Features

Read the complete September 2014 Digital Edition

Read the complete September 2014 Digital Edition

Click the above link to access the complete Digital Edition of the August 2014 issue of MM&M, with all text, charts and pictures.

Medical marketing needs mainstream Mad Men

Medical marketing needs mainstream Mad Men

Agencies must generate emotional resonance with the target audience, not unlike Apple, Pepsi or Nike

Are discounts cutting out co-pays?

GSK's decision to cut Advair's price spurred some PBMs to put it back on formulary. Will drugmaker discounts diminish the need for loyalty programs? How can these programs stay relevant beyond giving co-pay assistance?