Facebook bags $5m in damages for copying app in Italy

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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, a court document seen by Reuters showed.

The judges said the U.S. group 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.

“We have received the court’s decision and are examining it carefully,” a Facebook spokesman told Reuters.

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Meanwhile, the Dutch Government was sharply criticised by the opposition as well as coalition party members for starting the vaccination against COVID-19 late at an extraordinary parliamentary meeting on Tuesday.

Legislators accused Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Health Minister Hugo de Jonge of failing with regard to the vaccination campaign, which is to start on Wednesday – two weeks later than in all other European countries.

This was “embarrassing,” said populist right-wing lawmaker Geert Wilders. “This is not a strategy but chaos.”

Lodewijk Asscher, leader of the Social Democrat faction, also spoke of “chaos.” “We have heard every excuse,” he added.

Mark Rutte admitted to making mistakes, saying the government bet on the approval of the AstraZeneca/Oxford University vaccine, which is easier to distribute via general practitioners.

That vaccine has, however, not yet been approved by the EU.

Instead, the vaccine developed by BioNTech and Pfizer was approved before Christmas, but the vaccination centres necessary to administer the jab – which has to be stored at very low temperatures – are not fully ready in the Netherlands.

“The capacity will be progressively increased in the next weeks,” Rutte said.

Country-wide vaccinations are only to start next week, while 280,000 doses currently remain in storage.

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