I may be one of the last human being not to have a Facebook account, but I'm sure that doesn't concern Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook now has over 200 million users and is taking Europe by storm. In fact, Facebook is the leading social networking site in every country in Europe - except Germany. The German knock-off StudiVZ, now owned by Holtzbrinck, has more than double the uses of German Facebook. That doesn't sit well with the US juggernaut, which at one time tried to by StudiVZ. Now Facebook is taking action, this time in a German court:
A spokesperson for the German website, which launched about one year after Facebook in 2005, told the paper that the case was groundless. But the two sites do indeed look and function very similarly – with a few minor style differences. Facebook, which has some 2 million users within Germany, features blue as its main colour, meanwhile StudiVZ, with 5.5 million users in German-speaking countries, uses red.
The Web site of Der Spiegel has a pretty thorough report on the legal complaint. Of course, the whole thing is rather ironic, since Zuckerberg himself built Facebook with code stolen from his Harvard classmates. I am not a user of either Facebook or StudiVZ, but on the "face" of it, there is little that is innovative about Facebook, and not much that distinguishes its UI from other social networking sites like MySpace. StudiVZ simply took a fairly straightforward idea and adapted it to the German market, as was recently pointed out on USLAW.com:
Indeed, the co-founder of StudiVZ, Ehssan Dariani, freely admits that he took some of the basic ideas of Facebook and simply improved them. That's how product innovation is done: