As per the international and domestic copyright law, A-1 Software cannot use Facebook’s name in any way, nor does it have an opportunity to operate a site called facebook.com.bd, says a legal expert
Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, has started a legal battle with a Bangladeshi cable TV operator and Internet service provider based in Dhaka's Green Road area.
The United States-based social media platform filed the case against A-1 Software Limited – a Dhaka-based company – and a person named SK Shamsul Islam on 22 November in the Dhaka District Judge's Court over the registration of a domain name - facebook.com.bd - by the latter.
Mark Zuckerberg, who is one of the top billionaires of the world, filed the lawsuit seeking $50,000 in compensation. At the same time, Facebook demanded cancellation of the domain's registration in the name of A-1 Software and its allocation in favour of Facebook.
The popular social media platform also applied for imposing a permanent ban on the domain name so that defendants cannot transfer it.
However, A-1 Software Limited has hanged a notice for sale on the domain site with a price tag of six millions US Dollars.
The hearing of the case was scheduled for Tuesday (1 December), but the court deferred it to upcoming 14 December, said Barrister Mokshedul Islam, a local lawyer of the Facebook.
He also said he has filed the case and is handling it as a representative appointed by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
During a recent spot visit, The Business Standard (TBS) observed A-1 Software was running its business in a small rented room on the fourth floor of the House-75 on Green Road in the capital. The office room had nothing but a few old computers and wires to provide cable network and internet services.
Employees said the company provides cable connections to about 250 houses and Internet connections to about 100 houses in the area.
Imran Hossain, a local grocer, told TBS that people of the area are surprised to hear about the clash by a local cable operator with Facebook.
Facebook.com is the world's largest social media platform, with an annual turnover of about $21 billion. The company wants to do business in Bangladesh. It has already appointed a special officer here for this purpose. For the business, it needs a website named facebook.com.bd.
The lawyer of Facebook said the Facebook authority obtained registration of the domain name, facebook.com, in Bangladesh on 14 January 2010 from the Department of Patents, Designs and Trademarks. It also applied to BTRC in 2016 for the "facebook.com.bd" domain.
However, in 2010, SK Shamsul Islam got allocation of a domain under the same name from Bangladesh Telecommunications Company Limited (BTCL).
Later, he floated an advertisement to sell the domain. The issue drew Facebook's notice at the end of 2016. The Facebook authority then sent a legal notice to Shamsul to close down the domain.
However, Shamsul did not close it down rather asked Facebook to buy it for $6 million (approximately Tk51 crore).
The Facebook authority did not agree to that deal and filed the case.
Barrister Tanjib-ul Alam, a legal expert, told TBS that, as per the international and domestic copyright law, A-1 Software cannot use Facebook's name in any way, nor does it have an opportunity to operate a site called facebook.com.bd.
Both the United States and Bangladesh are signatories to the Paris Convention on copyright, he also said.
"Under the Paris Convention, the signatory countries would cooperate with each other in protecting the copyright of such international standard sites. There is no legal basis for what A-1 Software is doing. And the approval given by BTRC is also not logical," he explained.
However, Mirza Bayezid Hossain, manager of A-1 Software, told TBS opposed this view and said the approval for facebook.com.bd was obtained from BTRC in 2010 in compliance with all relevant laws.
"Since Facebook has lodged a case, we will deal with it. We hope the court verdict will come in our favour," he said.
BTRC lawyer Barrister Rez-e Khandaker told TBS that since Facebook has filed the case in the court, the verdict on it will come from there.