German firm demands answers after Facebook site hacked

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German pharmaceutical and chemical giant Merck KGaA was demanding answers from Facebook on Thursday after losing control of its page on the US social networking site.

"We want to understand why our site does not belong to us any more," said Gangolf Schrimpf, a spokesman for the firm.

The group was "very surprised" to discover that its Facebook page contained information on the similarly named, but unrelated, US company Merck, Schrimpf told AFP.

Merck KGaA has lodged a complaint with the Supreme Court of the State of New York setting out its intention to take legal action against Facebook.

"Because Facebook is an important marketing device, the page is of great value to Merck and its misappropriation is causing harm," said the complaint.

"While it is clear that Merck's Facebook page has been misappropriated, it is not yet clear how that happened or who is at fault nor ... is Facebook providing clear information about what happened," a Merck KGaA lawyer wrote.

In March, 2010, the German firm signed a deal with Facebook for exclusive rights to the page but was astonished to find in October this year that the content had changed and it had lost administrative control.

Content now related to its competitor Merck in the United States.

The two firms are distantly related, but have been legally separate entities since the 1919 Treaty of Versailles after World War I when the group was split in two as part of a reparations package against Germany.

© 2011 AFP

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