The case between Facebook and Faround will be heard in front of the Milan Court of Appeal on April 4. In the first degree Facebook was sentenced for the first time for unfair competition and copyright violations against Faround, a software application created in 2012 by the Milan-based company Business Competence.
On the first instance the Milan’s Court, had held that Facebook’s application Nearby was infringing Fararound’s electronic database which is protected under Italian Law.
Faround selects data on Facebook, through the profiles of registered users, and organizes and display them on an interactive map. The map then shows shops near to the user's position, also with relatives reviews and information on discounts and offers. Indeed this information is not owned by Faround. However the Court held that the mode of their organization holds a degree of originality which should be granted copyright protection. In fact, "the previous programs developed by Facebook (Facebook Places) and by third parties (Foursquare and Yelp) did not have the same capabilities as Faround: the first was a kind of pager to reach friends and not a geolocation of shops close to the user, while others were designed on the basis of logical algorithms working on the base of data entry provided by members of their social networks, and not Facebook’s.”
For these reasons, the Business Competence Srl accused and sued Facebook for infringing the application’s concept and format, launched with the name of Nearby. In addition, Nearby attracted professional advertisers, perpetrating unfair practices on the advertising market.
The Court of Milan, found that the two applications had the same functionalities and overlapped and ruled for the publication of the decision on the newspapers "Corriere della Sera" and "Il Sole 24 Ore" and, for at least fifteen days, on home page of facebook.com. The Court also banned any further use of Nearby in Italy, placing a fine of 45 thousand euro for each day of violation of its order . Facebook has appealed the decision in front of the Appeal Court of Milan, which, at the moment, has rejected the suspension request of the provisional measures imposed at first instance.