Ferrari and super fan fights over Facebook account

Article by Christian Andrei, on March 31, 2014

A legal fight between a super car maker and a super fan! Sammy Wasem, an amateur racer and creator of a Ferrari fan page that had turned into one of the most popular car sites on Facebook, and his father Olivier have filed a criminal complaint vs Ferrari, claiming copyright infringement after losing control of their site.

Ferrari has also filed a suit against the father and son, claiming that they misused its trademark to advertise non-Ferrari merchandise and for personal messages like invitations for Wasem's 18th birthday. The case is illustrates challenges companies have when dealing with copyright and trademark rights on social media.

Stefano Lai, a spokesman for Ferrari, remarked that the issue is not with Facebook or with its fans but with people trying to use Ferrari's intellectual property to make money out of it. He added that Ferrari hasn't been informed of the complaint filed by the Wasems, Olivier Wasem, however, denied selling merchandise on the site.

Ferrari's row with one of its fans contrasts with what Coca-Cola Co. did in a similar situation -- hiring the fans. Due to the increasing power of social media like Facebook, brands now tend to avoid lawsuits over social media disputes, although there is clear damage to their brand.

Benoit Van Asbroeck, a lawyer at Bird & Bird who specializes in intellectual property and information technology, told Bloomberg that there is change happening in the behavior of IP lawyers in defending their clients, noting that they now try to be very friendly in order to avoid an aggressive reaction on the Web."

Meanwhile, in February 2013, the Wasems filed a civil lawsuit, saying that they need to get compensation for more than 5,500 hours of work. Still, their big mistake might have been agreeing to become Ferrari’s official page before signing a contract. Currently, a Geneva prosecutor is analyzing the Wasems’ criminal complaint against Ferrari.

According to Automotive News, they demanded a compensation of at least 10 million Swiss francs or around $11 million. The prosecutor will meet with Sammy and Olivier Wasem in April, so stay tuned as you will hear more about it! [source: automotive news - sub. required]

Topics: ferrari, facebook

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