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Facebook fined $109K by German court for IP agreement

Different countries have different Intellectual Property laws, and Florida companies that do business abroad should be careful not to assume that their regular business practices in the U.S. are legal overseas. Even companies as huge as Facebook can get into trouble.

Tech Times reports that on March 1, a German court fined the social media giant the equivalent of more than $109,000 for failing to follow a previous court order to change its terms of use agreement. The court had objected to language in the agreement about how Facebook claims control over Intellectual Property that users share on the website.

The phrase that drew the court’s ire granted Facebook “a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook.” Facebook later removed the words “royalty-free” and “in connection with” from the clause, but the court objected to the revised text, saying it violated consumer rights under German law.

Facebook says the new fine is a matter of timing. A spokesperson claimed it complied with the order “a while ago,” but not fast enough for the court’s liking. But the court said the fine was because the key message has not changed.

While few Florida businesses are as large and international in scope as Facebook, many small businesses routinely operate outside of the U.S. in some capacity. And even those that do business within the U.S. only need to know how to protect their own Intellectual Property, and how to avoid IP litigation from other companies.

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