Ferrari is facing a court battle in Switzerland due to alleged copyright infringement over taking over a Facebook fan site. If the suit is successful, it could cost the company millions and harm its reputation on social media.

Sammy Wassem started the Facebook fan page for Ferrari when he was 15 and eventually grew it to over 500,000 followers. In 2009, the company congratulated him on the site's success, but said that "legal issues" forced it to take over the administration, according to Automotive News Europe. Wassem could still use the site, but managers had oversight.

Wassem asked Ferrari for financial compensation to keep working on the page but continued creating content on it for the next four years. Eventually, the company terminated his administration rights. In 2013 he and his father Olivier filed the lawsuit against the business alleging it owes payment over 5,500 hours of work and copyright infringement for taking over the page. They are asking for 10 million Swiss francs ($11.3 million).

Ferrari is counter-suing them for misusing the company's trademark, including allegedly advertising other merchandise on the page and using it to send invitations to Sammy's 18th birthday.
"The issue isn't with Facebook or with our fans but with those who try to use Ferrari's intellectual property to make money out of it," said Stefano Lai, a spokesman for Ferrari to Automotive News Europe.

The case highlights the difficult balance companies have to maintain with social media. Even if Ferrari is right, the fallout from lawsuit could be a loss of fans.


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 116 Comments
      404 not found
      • 10 Months Ago
      That's over $2000/hr they are asking for maintaining a Facebook page. Clearly i'm in the wrong business. I don't see the kid winning.
      MechE
      • 10 Months Ago
      Holy frivolous lawsuit, they are asking for $11.3 million in compensation for 5,500 hours of work!!?? $2000/hour LOL. I don't think any millionaire in the market for a Ferrari is going to care. And any 16 year old "friends" on the site aren't goign to care when/if they become millionaires.
      cbamft
      • 10 Months Ago
      No. Ferrari isn't going to lose fans over this, or the ones they will lose, nobody cares about...because odds are, not one of those 500k fans will ever be in a position to buy a Ferrari, so who gives a fu...errari?
        ACURA23CL
        • 10 Months Ago
        @cbamft
        Ferrari DEFINITELY doesn't give a "Fu...errari"! You've gotta buy those.
        Chris O.
        • 10 Months Ago
        @cbamft
        Ferraris are aspirational cars. It's true that most people will never be in a position to buy a new Ferrari, so it's not likely that this social media blight will affect the sales of their vehicles. Something like this could cut into their licensing profits, though.
      Koenigsegg
      • 10 Months Ago
      a kid starts an internet fan page for his favorite car company and then they sue him for it LOL tesla better not sue me for my tesla tumblr fan page
      Tom
      • 10 Months Ago
      Too many people don't understand copyright law. It doesn't matter if the kid created the page, if the page was say https://www.facebook.com/Ferrari or https://www.facebook.com/Ferrari_Fans or anything else with Ferrari's trademark, Ferrari not only has the legal right to take the page, they actually are OBLIGATED to do it the way copyright law is written. If they do not, then I can make cars, slap a Ferrari badge on them, and argue (and WIN if I have expensive lawyers) in court that Ferrari ABANDONED their trademarks and copyright claims by failing to enforce them, citing this Facebook page as an example. I am sorry if you feel sympathetic for the kid, but the article says he "Asked" for compensation. I do not see anywhere that a contract was made or agreed upon for ANY type of compensation. The kid probably just wants Ferrari to settle with him by giving him a free car, but again, under copyright laws, ANY such settlement would then open up tons of other legal battles down the road and could ultimately result in Ferrari losing trademark claims. Don't like it? Vote out representatives who fight for, write, and make into law this type of absurd law.
        Aussie Aspie
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Tom
        Problem is Ferrari are applying a double standard. They very happily take the massive hype and free advertising these pages create, and then they lose their heads when things don't go 100% as they'd like. Why didn't they sue him in the first place, when they first 'appropriated' his fb page? I don't know what legal positions will be take in this case. But as far as I'm concerned, in a moral sense at least, any ability for them to sue him went out the door the moment they congratulated him for doing all the work to set them up this fan page, and give then 500K followers at start-up. And before you get on your high horse about voting out political representatives, are you a resident of Switzerland? Of Italy? I'm guessing you're American, right? If so, then what in hell do "your representatives" have anything to do with litigation between a Swiss resident and an Italian company, in a Swiss court??? Any excuse for a political rant, hey?!
        Jeff
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Tom
        Great, except this is an international suit (Sweden), so US Copyright laws don't apply, so most of what you said is invalid
      Eliyahu
      • 10 Months Ago
      This is almost a replay of Nissan Motor Company's legal battle to take over the domain name of nissan.com from Israeli computer salesman Uzi Nissan, who used it for his own computer business. It's the idea that "we're wealthy and famous, so we have a divine right to take it away from the little guy who had it first." I've just lost all enthusiasm I ever had for a Ferrari.
      Jazzor
      • 10 Months Ago
      This kid is wasting his time and his money... And he better pray Ferrari lets him off the hook for copyright infringement.
      ffelix422
      • 10 Months Ago
      The pictures and information on the kids Facebook page were public offerings, meaning they were obtained from the media/internet. He didn't steal secret photos. When Ferrari original got involved with the kid they underestimated him. Now the Italians see consumers that can bring in advertising dollars. If Ferrari wins this, fans loose. All fans of cars, celebrities and etc blogs-websites-Facebook etc. If you have a successful website dedicated to Farrah Fawcett, her family can take over it and sell advertising rites to shampoo companies.
      b.rn
      • 10 Months Ago
      I'm confused. Legal issues forced Ferrari to take over the site. How did that happen? Was there an agreement? "Wassem asked Ferrari for financial compensation to keep working on the page but continued creating content on it for the next four years" He later sues for backpay. He asked for compensation, but the article doesn't say if it was granted or turned down. I suspect he was turned down. He's out of luck. Yep, a couple of bad social media moves by Ferrari, but this is one confusing article. How about a little clarification?
      Dwight Bynum Jr.
      • 10 Months Ago
      Unless these "fans" are potential (new) Ferrari owners, I fail to see why Ferrari would give two sh*ts where they go or how upset they get.
        404 not found
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Dwight Bynum Jr.
        Ferrari probably makes more money off of fan accessories at F1 races than they do selling cars. But Ferrari doesn't owe the kid a dime.
      Andrew Berardinelli
      • 10 Months Ago
      The only thing I can see as being used against Ferrari is that they decided to take administrative control of the page, thus making it an "Official" Ferrari page, and let the kid keep using it under their management. They should have acknowledged the page while announcing it as a "non-official" source of information, that way a kid could still use it like everyone else in the world uses Facebook - posting pics and invites to parties. I remember Fan Clubs being deemed "Official" by a brand or athlete, etc. But there was still a disclaimer placed on the clubs that protected both the members and the celebrity.
      Britt Benston
      • 10 Months Ago
      There are fan sites all over the web. It's what any brand could hope for, to have real people spreading brand gospel for free. Better than paid advertising because of its authenticity. Ferrari looks elitist here, like it's too good for its aspirational fans.
    • Load More Comments