A Milan-based appeals court on Tuesday ordered Facebook to pay 3.83 million euros ($4.70 million) in damages to an Italian software development company for copying an app. The judges said Facebook copied their ‘Nearby’ feature from Italy’s Business Competence’s app ‘Faround’, which allows users to identify shops, clubs, restaurants in their surrounding area through geolocalisation.
The court’s decision upheld a 2019 ruling but increased the amount of damages that Facebook will have to pay, initially set at 350,000 euros.
Responding to the decision, a Facebook spokesperson told Reuters that the company had “received the court’s decision” and is “examining it carefully.”
The original complaint was filed in 2013
The case dates back to 2012. That year, Business Competence launched Faround which was designed to help users find Facebook friends near their location. The app quickly gained ground in the Italian market, Reuters previously reported. However, just months later, Facebook launched its own Nearby feature, which also competed with the likes of Foursquare and Yelp, and downloads of Faround reportedly plummeted.
The Italian software developer responded by filing a lawsuit in 2013, and Reuters reported that the court issued a preliminary ruling in its favor in 2016, which was made public in 2017. Facebook agreed to discontinue the feature in Italy while it appealed the ruling, but subsequent courts have sided with Business Competence.
In 2019, Facebook paid a reported $5 billion settlement in a deal with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to close an investigation into the Cambridge Analytica data scandal. The fine was slammed by lawmakers as being too soft of a punishment for the company. Facebook is currently facing a lawsuit from the U.S. government that threatens to force it to break up. The social media website, which also owns Instagram, is accused of making acquisitions to decrease competition and worsening the quality of options for consumers. The FTC and 48 state and territory attorneys general have proposed forcing the tech giant to divest its assets like Instagram and Whatsapp.