Judge Rejects Power.com's Countersuit Against Facebook

A judge in the Northern California District Court has thrown out the countersuit Power.com levied against Facebook over the summer. Power.com filed its countersuit in July, alledging that, among other things, Facebook is unlawfully withholding the data that users own (as stated in Facebook’s own ToS) and is stifling competition by refusing to allow third party services.

Power.com is a service that allows users to aggregate all of their social network activity into a central hub, and has done so through methods that Facebook says violate its terms of use. Facebook filed suit against the company at the beginning of this year for scraping data and storing user credentials. A week later there were reports that the two parties were near a settlement, but that clearly didn’t happen.

The judge attributes the dismissal to a lack of concrete complaints and factual allegations in Power.com’s countersuit. We’ve embedded the full document below.

Power.com has given us the following statement, saying that they will continue the case after fine tuning their arguments:

Earlier in the case Judge Fogel granted Power’s motion to require Facebook to provide a more detailed pleading of its claims. Yesterday’s order essentially does the same thing with respect to Power’s counterclaims and affirmative defenses. The Court determined that Power’s pleading did not provide enough detail with respect to the fair use defense and other affirmative defenses, and also with respect to the counterclaims under the unfair competition laws. The Court gave Power 30 days, until November 21, 2009, to re-plead their defenses and counterclaims with more detail. Power intends to do so.

This is a routine type of order that often occurs in the early stages of litigation, where the parties dispute the sufficiency of the pleadings in terms of the level of factual detail that is provided. Power is confident that it will be able to amend its pleading within 30 days to satisfy the Court’s concerns.

Power’s Answer and Counter-Complaint contains a seven and a half page “Introduction and Background” narrative untethered to any specific claim. The claims themselves each consist of a conclusory recitation of the applicable legal standard and a general “reference [to] all allegations of all prior paragraphs as though fully set forth herein.” Facebook argues persuasively that this form of pleading does not enable the Court to surmise which facts in the introductory narrative support which claims, if in fact they do. Moreover, antitrust claims require a “higher degree of particularity in the pleadings.”