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Man adds email evidence to claim of owning half of Facebook

Facebook dismisses allegations
Tue Apr 12 2011, 10:42

A MAN CLAIMING to own half of Facebook has revised his court complaint to include emails that allegedly were written by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Paul Ceglia claims that he owns 50 per cent of the social notworking website, originally to be called The Face Book, under a contract signed with Zuckerberg in 2003. He claims he gave his "time, ideas, knowhow ... [and] sweat equity" to the project, but Zuckerberg claims he didn't come up with the idea until 2004.

The value of Facebook is not publicly known, but Sharepost.com values the company at as much as $55 billion. That's a lot of dosh and clearly Ceglia is doing everything in his power to prove his case.

Ceglia originally claimed to own 84 per cent of the company, based on a two-page "Work for Hire" contract supposedly signed in 2003, which gave Ceglia a 50 per cent share plus an additional one per cent per day that the launch of the website was delayed. Ceglia decided to lower his claim to just 50 per cent after Zuckerberg said it was unfair, he claims.

The new evidence is a series of emails allegedly exchanged between Ceglia and Zuckerberg. One email suggests that Zuckerberg knew that the Winkelvoss twins were planning to launch their own website, so he wanted to get in first. He also asks for $1,000 as an investment in his social notworking project, according to Business Insider.

Facebook had a fiery response to the amended complaint. "This is a fraudulent lawsuit brought by a convicted felon, and we look forward to defending it in court," said Orin Snyder, a Facebook lawyer. "From the outset, we've said that this scam artist's claims are ridiculous and this newest complaint is no better."

The reference to Ceglia being a felon most likely refers to his conviction for possession of magic mushrooms in 1997, when he was fined $15,000. How this relates to whether or not he had any input to the creation of Facebook is unclear.

Ceglia is not the first person to claim that Facebook was partly his creation. The Winkelvoss twins, who went to Harvard with Zuckberberg, claimed that the website was their idea. They sued, eventually settling in 2008, only to launch another lawsuit claiming they had been misled in the settlement. That appeal was recently dismissed. µ

 

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