David vs Goliath: Small Italian site wins copyright victory over Facebook

Catherine Edwards
Catherine Edwards - [email protected]
David vs Goliath: Small Italian site wins copyright victory over Facebook
Facebook logos. Photo: Loic Venance/AFP

Climbook, a small Italian website for climbing enthusiasts, will be allowed to keep its name despite opposition from social media giant Facebook.


The patent office of Italy's Ministry of Economic Development decided this week that the site for Italy's climbing community could continue to exist under the same name, according to a statement shared by Climbook on Wednesday. In doing so the ministry rejected a complaint from Facebook first filed in 2015.

Climbook was set up by Italian mountain guide Alessandro Lamberti in 2008, to provide information about climbing routes around the world. It has around 2,000 users who can leave comments on the routes, discussing their difficulty and nearby facilities.

A screenshot of the Climbook site, which offers information about climbing and different routes around the world. 

Facebook had argued that Climbook was too similar in its "structural, visual, phonetic, and conceptual" design, and that the services it offered were "partly similar" to those provided by Facebook, which could confuse users. They also described the average consumer as "characterized by a medium level of awareness, prudence, and circumspection".

In 2016, Lamberti appealed for Climbook users to donate to help cover the considerable costs of the legal case, which took over two years to reach a resolution.

But now the economic development ministry has ruled that it is "highly improbable" that users would get mixed up between the two brands, according to a section of the ruling published on Climbook on Tuesday.

"Perhaps it was the arrogance of the powerful, or perhaps just a routine, but the fact remains that this time the giant must bow its head and we can keep our Climbook," wrote Lamberti.

It's not the first time a small Italian tech firm has won a victory over Facebook. In 2017, Mark Zuckerberg's company was forced to drop a feature which helped users discover their friends' locations, after a court ruled that it had copied an app created by a Milan start-up.

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