In a new twist, a New York day spa is alleging that a California competitor engaged in false advertising by sending Facebook friend requests to its existing fans.

California-based Complexions Day Spa and Wellness Center sent a takedown notice to Facebook in January claiming that New York’s Complexions, Inc.’s Facebook page violated its trademark rights. Facebook complied.

The New York spa retaliated by filing suit in New York federal court seeking a declaratory judgment that its name, in use since 1987, does not infringe on that of the California spa.

The New York spa also claims that by sending Facebook friend requests to the New York company’s roughly 1,000 existing fans just days before the company’s page was removed by Facebook, the California spa had violated the Lanham Act.

“Defendant’s actions were deliberately calculated to deceive, mislead and confuse Plaintiff’s customers into falsely concluding that Defendant’s business is affiliated or related to Plaintiff’s business,” according to the complaint. “Defendant’s actions were deliberately calculated to create a false impression that instances of actual mistake have occurred between Plaintiff’s business and Defendant’s business in order to unfairly gain an advantage in any legal action that might result between these parties.”

The New York spa seeks a judgment that will permit its continued use of the Complexions mark in its trade territory, noting that there are 24 other third-party-operated salons and spas around the country using the Complexions mark or some variation. It also seeks restoration of the New York spa’s Facebook page (with Facebook named as an additional defendant).

To read the complaint in Complexions, Inc. v. Complexions Day Spa and Wellness Center, click here.

Why it matters: The claim poses an interesting question that a court has yet to consider. The plaintiff will have to establish that the loss of Facebook friends resulted in actual, compensable damage. It argues in the complaint that the Facebook page constituted “a valuable trade asset” of its business, and that the loss of the page has caused the company damages in lost sales and marketing potential.