Legal Issues

by Carlo Longino

Filed Under:
social networking

facebook connectu

Lawsuit Alleges Facebook's Founder Built The Site With Stolen Code and Ideas

from the we-want-some-money dept

ScaredOfTheMan wrote in with the news that a lawsuit alleging Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg stole the original code for the site is coming to a head. Zuckerberg worked as a programmer for another social-networking site, now called ConnectU, while a student at Harvard, and the sites founders allege that during that time, Zuckerberg took ConnectU's design, source code and business plan, and turned them into Facebook. If he actually did steal the business plan, you sort of have to wonder why Facebook is now being mentioned as a billion-dollar buyout target, while ConnectU remains pretty much anonymous. While this dispute originally began back in 2004, it's taken on added urgency as Facebook has become more popular, and those high-dollar buyout and IPO rumors build -- particularly as the ConnectU founders want full control of Facebook turned over to them. A judge will rule on July 25 on Facebook's motion to dismiss the case, but it's hard to believe that will be the end of the matter. As long as huge amounts of money continue to swirl around the social-networking space, so too will the lawsuits.

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  1. identicon
    GoblinJuice, 16 Jul 2007 @ 9:53am

    I don't know whether FaceBook is guilty, but such things happen all the time.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jul 2007 @ 10:18am

    Your code and business plan are worthless without that certain magic mojo, and dumb luck. Popular websites emerge, theyre not designed. I dont care what you stole, if you have a billion dollar website, its yours.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jul 2007 @ 10:25am

    something like that should be easy to proove or dismiss.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jul 2007 @ 10:44am

    Business plans should not be IP of any kind. Code should be copyrighted, not patented, and sure, it's bad if he stole that.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Alex, 16 Jul 2007 @ 10:47am

    mmmmmmm, free advertising for connectu

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jul 2007 @ 11:11am

    I'm going to go check out ConnectU right now!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Pig, 16 Jul 2007 @ 12:39pm

    Facebook Stole Idea

    Of course Facebook should be found guilty. If they are found not liable then you might as well kiss the American Dream goodbye, if it's not already goodbye. What sense is there coming up with a genius brilliant idea, only to have someone who is helping you with programming the site steal your intellect, blatantly, ignore your copyrights, ignore your prior work, and then see someone else reap the rewards. Surely, Mark Zuckerberg measured this risk when he started Facebook knowing full well he stole intellectual property from ConnectU, he decided to go ahead build a user base and monopolize value as quick as possible, become a billionaire and then when these lawsuits come he can brush them off as a nuisance, and offer a pittance settlement. Mark Zuckerberg appears to be a thief.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Jon, 16 Jul 2007 @ 12:42pm

    Re: Facebook Stole Idea

    Got Paid?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    TheDock22, 16 Jul 2007 @ 1:11pm

    Re: Facebook Stole Idea

    What proof do you have that Zuckerberg actually stole the code? Maybe he just took the general idea and made it much better therefore turning the idea into his own. There is no laws out there saying you can't take someone's general idea of a site (I don't see ConnectU suing MySpace for its idea) and make it better. If that were true, Microsoft would be the only OS (thank goodness for competition).

    They would have to prove that the source code from the website was plagiarized (word for word)in order to make that statement stick. And good luck trying to sue him for stealing a business plan.

    AND the dependents in this case are suing for Facebook to be shut down AND the entire Facebook business be turned over to them, which will NEVER happen so they are fighting a losing battle.

    Did he steal the code? Well I find it hard to believe a 23-year-old could come up with 100% of the code, design, and business plan for a website as huge as Facebook. And it does seem awfully convenient that he worked for a company that did just this. Is he guilty of stealing someone elses' idea? Morally, sure, but legally? I don't think so.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Matt Bennett, 16 Jul 2007 @ 1:37pm

    Re: Facebook Stole Idea

    Wow, that is totally a plant.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Buzz, 16 Jul 2007 @ 7:14pm


    There seems to be no evidence suggesting that Mark Z. stole the code from ConnectU. Since he used to work for them, it is natural to assume he "may have stolen some". However, Mark obviously did SOMETHING different if Facebook is facing billion dollar offers while ConnectU remains another unknown social network. The worst that could happen is Mark ends up paying a couple thousand to ConnectU for compensation (a light slap on the wrist), but as for handing over control of Facebook... yeah, you'd like that, wouldn't you, ConnectU? Dream on.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Mike Rundle, 16 Jul 2007 @ 7:25pm


    I think a better argument that ConnectU has is if Mark was working on Facebook while he was working at ConnectU. It's difficult to prove if he stole code or not, but if they can prove that he was designing/developing Facebook while on the ConnectU payroll that the basis for Facebook falls under ConnectU intellectual property and that they can sue for.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Zaid, 16 Jul 2007 @ 9:22pm

    You guys need to understand that ConnectU was no corporation or start-up. It was a dorm project that went no where. Happens all the time in uni--you start a dozen projects that go no where.

    So sure Mark might have been part of ConnectU. But the project was going no where. At that point it is Mark's right to go his own way. Oh, and even at ConnectU, from what I understand Mark was brought into the team as the main developer.

    Really beats me how much code ConnectU could really have and how much(if any!) Mark used to launch initial FB. IP-wise I don't these clowns will win any points in court for such a vague idea.

    Then again, if I was in their shoes seeing a buddy go from zero to bil for something I helped inspire, I'd do everything to force some pocket change out of him. Or not.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Halogen, 17 Jul 2007 @ 5:19am

    Everyone should visit ConnectU, try it out, then make up their opinion. Because that's the only evidence the Internet at large has at the moment.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    carbonmind, 17 Jul 2007 @ 6:01am

    Lawsuit alleges Facebook Founder

    Comprehensive NDA's and non-compete contracts for everyone please! In the music business, whenever there's a substantial hit, there's a slew of copyright assaults from composers - much like domain name squatting and patent squatting, many people want to derive their income from other's actual labor. Most cases are dismissed. I'm not saying this case is one of them - but may well turn out to be.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Brad, 17 Jul 2007 @ 7:06am

    Re: LOL

    Depends on what kind of employment contract he had. At my previous workplace, we all signed a contract that basically turned over all IP we developed while working for that company -- regardless of it applicability to that business.

    If Mark Z. signed a non-disclosure and IP contract of any kind he'll be judged against the letter of that contract -- which could protect the business plan as well.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    KBA, 17 Jul 2007 @ 10:51am

    Re: LOL

    Uhhh, ConnectU's mistake was they didn't put him under written contract, hence the B.S. He (Mark) was asked to help them with the coding and he saw the blueprints. He delayed doing their stuff while working on his own stuff. The one day, "" was created. ConnectU guys were scrambling to get their site up and running. I'd say more about Mark, but I'll leave it at that.
    He's a sack of shit thief.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Buzz, 17 Jul 2007 @ 11:07am

    Too late...

    Dang. I discussed this issue with my wife and arrived at the exact same conclusion as several of you did only to find you have already pointed it out to me. XD

    Yeah, if Mark created Facebook while on the clock at ConnectU then he might be in deep doo-doo. However, aside from that, I fail to see where ConnectU is coming from. Facebook and ConnectU seem nothing alike aside from both being social networks. Overlaps in code would probably be coincidence since many social network functions are essentially the same and should not be patentable "discoveries" of any kind. :P

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. identicon
    steve roeder, 29 Oct 2007 @ 12:48pm

    Re: Facebook Stole Idea

    You are right that IF it did happen then it's far to easy for someone to steal someone elses great idea/American Dream. Their has also been accusations about it happening to two different reality shows. Then I see a show about how many mansions these two guys have after stepping on someone else with no trace of a conscience.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. identicon
    fishman, 21 Jan 2008 @ 4:04pm

    re: facebook stole idea

    Everybody discussing this thread needs to know 1 simple fact: at the time ConnectU claims Mark Zuck "stole" anything, all of the parties involved were college kids. No companies, no payrolls, no non-disclosure agreements, no contracts, etc. Just kids kicking around ideas, writing some code. MZ didn't steal code. He got some of his smart friends involved and they worked their butts off and had some fun creating facebook. The ConnectU preppies had their rich dad hire a lawyer when facebook boomed. Simple as that. Disclosure: My kid was one of the smart friends who could write code.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Feb 2008 @ 6:36pm

    This is absolutely ridiculous!? What IS connectU, that is how much Facebook is better than connectU. ConnectU is only if your a college student or alumni and you have to be 18 or older vs facebook is open to EVERYONE! That makes facebook SO much better than ConnectU can ever be.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 19 Feb 2008 @ 6:53pm

    Re: Facebook Stole Idea

    Uh, hello and what about myspace which is the same general kind of website, is ConnectU going to file a lawsuit against them aswell!? Facebook has become so popular over ConnectU for a reason, because it's so much better. Have you even read ConenctU's terms & conditions? You have to be a college student or alumni and have to be 18 and over. Um, does facebook have any sort of ridiculous segregating membership conditions? NO, that's why Facebook is so much better and has become a multibillion dollar company. And the American dream, isn't it to have a free market and competition allowing for the BEST product to come out on top? not just having a monopoly, ie, ConnectU only?! Think about this really. And tell me, honestly, which company did you hear about first? and which are you a member of?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Jun 2008 @ 9:42pm

    wow ^^

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24. identicon
    Dizzy, 12 Jun 2008 @ 10:05pm

    Re: Re: Facebook Stole Idea

    I was about to leave after I posted my anonymous "wow" above, but the last two retarded posters really made me cringe, soooo, to the above two persons who are obviously 15:

    Facebook started and got big as a college only website. not sure if you had to be 18, but you had to be a college student or graduate, which means you pretty much had to be 18. they only started letting anyone join when mysapce got really huge - money. Alot of facebook users got pissed (they had groups with millions of people saying they would leave if they did it). Facebook was (and still somewhat is) the cleaner, profesional myspace. As to why ConnectU is not big as myspace....meh..... HE STOLE THIER IDEA. If ConnectU came out first and grabbed all the momentum and users, and facebook started after with the same idea, you would be saying "facebook? wtf? ConnectU is kooler and so mch WAYY better!!1".

    Now can you kind of comprehend what they are suing for? cool, forget about it, now go check your myspace, i think you have a new friend request from xXlonleykarenXx

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25. identicon
    Nichole, 8 Sep 2008 @ 4:28am

    Wow it's amazing how much ConnectU is like Facebook there is some comparison. Hmm I am starting to think he is guilty but only to a degree. I think he changed a lot of the features and of course made it his own. Even if he did steal it all, who cares Facebook rocks!! I think what ConnectU is not only kicking there own ass but I think they just want to be noticed. But if you created something to where you think would make a lot of money don't you think you would of been more careful with it. But anyways thats just my opinion, who am I to judge I pretty sure we've all have had our share of stealing stuff! Weather it's a bad joke a style or materialistic things and most of all ideas.. etc

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26. identicon
    Heather, 18 Oct 2010 @ 3:51pm

    White guys and Indian write source code, the jew Zuckerberg steals it, the jew Larry Summers protects his tribesman, jewish investment firm gives Zuckerberg money, and jewish media covers up for them and makes sure the jewish company Facebook is mentioned in every story, while ignoring the Gentile company ConnectU.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27. identicon
    Oliver, 7 Jan 2011 @ 7:49pm

    facebook founder

    Why do you hate Mark Zuckerberg? because he is not the originall creator of facebook.

    I am looking for people who want to prove Mark Elliot Zuckerberg is not the facebook creator, email me

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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