German site sued by Facebook says claims without merit

NEW YORK Sun Jul 20, 2008 6:03pm EDT

A generic picture of a computer keyboard. OFFPO REUTERS/Catherine Benson

A generic picture of a computer keyboard. OFFPO

Credit: Reuters/Catherine Benson

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - The German company sued by Facebook for running a "knockoff" of the social networking Web site said on Sunday it asked a German court to declare that Facebook's claims are without merit.

Facebook's complaint, filed on Friday in a California federal court, accuses studiVZ of copying the look, feel, features and services of Facebook and seeks "to end StudiVZ's illegal activity" lest Facebook's own reputation be harmed by association.

"As with any counterfeit product, StudiVZ's uncontrolled quality standards for service, features and privacy negatively impact the genuine article," Facebook stated in the complaint.

StudiVZ filed for declaratory judgment at the District Court in Stuttgart, also on Friday.

Facebook's suit also seeks compensatory damages in an amount to be determined at trial.

StudiVZ claims Facebook is suing them only because Facebook has failed to transplant its success in the United States and other countries to the German market.

"Their strategy appears to be: 'If you can't beat them, sue them,'" said Marcus Riecke, chief executive of studiVZ, which is owned by Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck, a German publishing company.

(Reporting by Helen Chernikoff; Editing by Jan Paschal)

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