Just when Facebook thought it was safe… Judge Alex Kozinski and the rest of the Ninth Circuit dismissed the Winklevoss twins’ lawsuit, but now Paul Ceglia is renewing his claim to 50% of the multi-billion dollar company.
We covered the Winklevoss (Winklevii?) lawsuit in a previous post, as well as Ceglia’s initial lawsuit, but now it looks like there’s new information that could change the case. The Winklevii claim (or lack thereof) was fairly straightforward, concerning the actual values of the shares to which the Winkelvii signed away their rights. The Ceglia case is a bit more befuddling, namely because it took him an astounding seven years to come forward with a claim. Coupled with a previous fraud conviction for a wood pellet business Ceglia ran out of his home in upstate New York, this long delay makes Ceglia’s claim sound fishy. Furthermore, whereas Ceglia previously claimed to have an 84% share in Facebook, he’s now saying it’s a 50% share.
But now Ceglia’s apparently produced emails between himself and Mark Zuckerberg that deal with the payments for Zuckerberg’s work on two projects, once called StreetFax and the other called “the face book”. The emails, which are dated from 2003 to 2004 (when Zuckerberg was still a student at Harvard), seem to establish that Ceglia had funded the “face book” project, and that Zuckerberg said the project wasn’t going well and he was thinking of shutting it down, right around the time he moved to California to get more funding for the instantly successful site.
Facebook acknowledges that Zuckerberg did have a contract with Ceglia to create StreetFax, but says that the references to “the face book” were doctored. Ceglia’s law firm, DLA Piper, which often represents international technology clients, isn’t so sure, or at least, they haven’t dismissed the emails as forgeries. After performing weeks of due diligence, DLA Piper thinks it has a case, and says that they are well within the statute of limitations, which is 6 years from breach of contract (which they claim occurred in 2004 when Zuckerberg incorporated Facebook). Others aren’t so sure that the clock should be set at July 2004.
We’ll keep you posted on the happenings in this latest case.
- Another Facebook co-founder shows new evidence of alleged Zuckerberg fraud (venturebeat.com)
- Paul Ceglia Returns To Haunt Zuckerberg, This Time With More Alleged Email Evidence (techcrunch.com)
- Fresh Off Court Win, Facebook Faces Yet Another Suit (adweek.com)