Ferrari, Facebook Hit With Lawsuit Over Fan Page Dispute


Ferrari F60 America launch, Beverly Hills, California

Ferrari F60 America launch, Beverly Hills, California

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Social media allows car fans to easily connect and share their passion, but it also exposes them to the bizarre world of copyright law. A Swiss father and son who created popular Ferrari fan pages are suing both the carmaker and Facebook, claiming the two companies colluded to take away the pages.

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The lawsuit filed in California state court follows legal disputes in Europe between Olivier and Sammy Wasem and the Italian sports carmaker over two Facebook fan pages, bringing the social media giant into the argument as well.

According to Automotive News (subscription required), the Wasems claim their original "Ferrari Fan Page" debuted in 2008 and that Ferrari created its own official page that wasn't as popular, prompting the takeover. A Ferrari administration was added without their permission, and the company chalked the whole thing up to "legal issues."

Ferrari reportedly began negotiating with the Wasems—including asking them to create a Formula One page—but the father and son say their administrator status was abruptly revoked in 2012 by Facebook, which then cut off their access to the fan pages entirely last year.

The Wasems are seeking half the value of the two pages, which they estimate to have attracted more 16 million fans, estimated to be worth $174 to $1,000 each in advertising revenue.

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Facebook allows users to create fan pages about brands as long as they don't claim to speak for the company, and make it clear to viewers that the page isn't officially sanctioned by said company.

The California suit follows legal battles between the Wasems and Ferrari in Europe. The father and son previously filed a criminal complaint in Switzerland, claiming copyright infringement when they lost control of the pages. Ferrari also sued the Wasems, claiming they misused the brand's trademark to advertise non-Ferrari merchandise.

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