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Facebook ordered to pay $4.7M to Italian developer over copycat feature

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The appeals court ruled its ‘Nearby’ feature was copied from another app

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Facebook has been ordered to pay €3.83 million (around $4.72 million) in damages to an Italian developer over the social network’s “Nearby” feature. Reuters reports that the Milan-based appeals court upheld a 2019 ruling saying Facebook had copied the feature from developer Business Competence’s Faround app.

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.

Responding to the decision, a Facebook spokesperson told Reuters that the company had “received the court’s decision” and is “examining it carefully.”