Facebook and StudiVZ end legal dispute

Facebook and StudiVZ have reached a settlement in the alleged plagiarism case, with the German social network operator paying Zuckerberg and co an undisclosed sum as part of the deal. Both companies will be withdrawing their respective claims both in the United States and Germany and continue to operate their business as before (statement in German).

StudiVZ and Facebook have agreed not to disclose any more details about the settlement.

Facebook filed suit against StudiVZ in California in July last year, alleging that the German company had infringed on Facebook’s “look, feel, features and services” (which clearly was very much the case from the get-go). The International Herald Tribune later revealed that Facebook had been negotiating for months to try to buy StudiVZ, citing a former executive of the German company as its source. That never happened because parent company Georg von Holtzbrinck was reportedly not satisfied with what Facebook was willing to pay for StudiVZ, which it had acquired for the equivalent of $134 million in early 2007.

A second suit was subsequently filed in Germany in November 2008, but two months ago the County Court in Cologne actually ruled against Facebook, also claiming the U.S. company’s lawyers had been ‘sloppy’ with their preparations. Facebook immediately announced it would be appealing the court’s decision.

Now that both parties have finally reached a settlement after over a year of lawsuits and failed acquisition attempts, the case is now part of history. You could say Facebook won because the German company is paying an undisclosed sum to the U.S. social networking operator as part of the deal, but at the same time StudiVZ can freely continue to market its services to the German public with an almost identical copy of Facebook’s website (see screenshot below).

(Thanks to Tilman Drerup for the tip)