Starting a website or a Facebook fan page can be fun and depending on how much time you care to put into the effort, it can grow to large proportions. I can attest that building F1B since 2005 has seen terrific growth and lot of hours invested.
Everything is usually fine until you reach a certain size and then it becomes a little more difficult. After serving our 1.2 millionth podcast download, I find that Formula 1 itself has taken a keen interest in our name and what we are doing.
That also seems to be what Ferrari have done regarding a Facebook fan page started by father and son, Olivier and Sammy Wasem. The pair started the page and it grew to large proportions. So much so that Ferrari worked with Facebook to take over the page according to a lawsuit filed in California against Ferrari and Facebook by the Wasems.
According to the Wasems, Ferrari asked Facebook to give it administrative control over the Ferrari Fan Page and in 2009 the company informed the Wasems that “legal issues” forced it to take over control of the page.
The Ferrari Fan Page along with their Formula 1 Vision page had been taken over and a letter asking for control to be restored to the Wasems was met with an answer from Facebook that the pages had been taken over by hackers, according to the lawsuit.
As Bloomberg reports, Facebook’s rules state that users can make a fan page for a brand as long as they don’t claim to be the actual brand or that it is the official page of the brand. IT gets a little dodgy here because our website clearly states that we are not Formula 1 with a clear disclaimer and link to Formula 1 itself.
The reason this is intriguing is that our website is said to be encroaching on trademark legality but Facebook has a different standard? Why is a fan page about Formula 1 on a website different than a Formula 1 fan page on Facebook using the phrase “Formula 1” in its title?
It’s also interesting that law firms can simply take over a domain by filing a trademark infringement complaint to ICANN and assume ownership of your domain. Apparently that is what Ferrari and Facebook allowed?
It’s a cloudy issue to be sure. While I respect and understand trademark concerns (and I do appreciate them), I also find it a bit of a parallel in that Facebook pages for brands are somehow viewed as different than a website using a brand’s name or similar. What about race circuits using the term “F1” in their name such as the one in Boston which is now in litigation with Formula 1 over trademark infringement?
Regardless, it seems the Wasems have a beef and but how Ferrari and Facebook will counter is yet to be seen.
Hat Tip: Bloomberg and Jeff Halsey.