Facebook has held its hands up over a mistake which has seen Merck KGaA's page on the social networking site taken over by rival and similarly-named Merck & Co.

The German drugmaker was preparing to take legal action on the takeover of www.facebook.com/merck by the US giant, noting that Facebook is "an important marketing device…and its misappropriation is causing harm". Merck KGaA noted last week that while its page has been misappropriated, "it is not yet clear how that happened or who is at fault nor…is Facebook providing clear information about what happened".

However the latter is now looking to resolve the problem. Facebook sent a statement to PharmaTimes World News noting that "the transfer of the vanity URL Facebook.com/Merck from Merck KGaA to Merck & Co was due to an administrative error. We apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused".

Facebook has contacted the companies explaining the situation and Facebook.com/Merck will be unavailable "unless and until the two companies mutually agree that one can use it". The social network major says that the firms are welcome to create a new username/vanity URL reflecting their operations or maintain an official page on Facebook without a vanity URL.

Both Mercks seem happy with Facebook's response and are working on a way forward.