As I have repeatedly observed, it is puzzling that for more than nine decades, two of the largest multi-national public companies in the world (by revenue) haven't done more to "re-brand" their identities -- in ways which would help distinguish the one, from the other.
Now, it seems that a 21st Century phenomenom will do it for them. Overnight, Facebook's administrators disabled the "/Merck" vanity URL -- citing the spat between Merck KGaA (Germany) and Merck & Co. (United States), as to which concern may properly claim the name -- and thus, the vanity URL on Facebook.
Facebook's rules here are clear:
. . . .5. Protecting Other People's Rights
We respect other people's rights, and expect you to do the same.
1.You will not post content or take any action on Facebook that infringes or violates someone else's rights or otherwise violates the law.
2. We can remove any content or information you post on Facebook if we believe that it violates this Statement. . . .
III. Application Content. . . .
B. Prohibited Content | You agree that you will not promote, or provide content referencing, facilitating, containing or using, the following. . .
2.Content that infringes upon the rights of any third party, including intellectual property rights, privacy, publicity, moral or other personal or proprietary right, or that is deceptive or fraudulent. . . .
C. Rights to Content
1.You must ensure that you own or have secured all rights necessary to copy, display, distribute, deliver, render and publicly perform all content of or within your application to Facebook users in all countries where you make the content available. . . .
It now seems pretty plain that US Merck didn't have those rights -- as to the "/Merck" vanity URL. Especially not if Merck US (allegedly) claim-jumped the right to the vanity URL, from the German entity. [There is essentially zero chance that Facebook spontaneously changed the passwords for Admin access (passwords originally granted only to Merck KGaA Germany), without some affirmative representations and showings (which, must have been, at least, less than completely truthful) from someone connected to Merck & Co. US, here -- let's be honest, now -- we all know how Facebook "support" is anything but.]
So -- given that Merck & Co. was just exactly one week ago telling the world about its newly renegotiated "Corporate Integrity Agreement" (after another DoJ plea deal -- costing $950 million of the stockholders' money, just this time -- and over $6 billion, overall!), it is time for Merck & Co. to immediately and voluntarily identify the employees or contractors involved in convincing Facebook's staffers to hand over the keys (either by omission of relevant information, or outright deceptive representations to said Facebook staffers) to Merck KGaA's vanity Facebook URL sometime back in October 2011.
While Merck US may well argue it has the right to the Merck name in various geographies, it can no longer credibly claim that it -- as an organization -- thinks its conduct in obtaining the vanity URL was lawful, vis-a-vis Merck KGaA's open, notorious (and most importantly) prior (since early 2010) rights to that URL. [Here recall that back then, in 2010, Merck & Co. (US) was largely forsaking social media applications, on regulatory entanglement concerns.] In short, it was shying away, at a time when German Merck was deciding to move forward, aggressively. Merck US cannot reclaim that lost ground, and especially not so now by (alleged) subterfuge.
It is time for CEO Frazier to act on his new transparency: Name the names, Mr. Frazier -- don't make Merck KGaA litigate in New York to get them.
Put this suddenly very-embarrassing matter to bed, now.