Facebook/ConnectU Settlement Shows Why Losers Litigate

from the it's-profitable dept

Last year, in the midst of various claims from multiple different people that Mark Zuckerberg somehow "stole" the idea for Facebook from other Harvard students, we noted that it really didn't matter. After all, the basic concepts behind Facebook were hardly new when Zuckerberg started it. There had been sites like SixDegrees, Ryze and Friendster long before Facebook came along. What mattered wasn't the idea, but the execution -- and for whatever reason, what Zuckerberg did with Facebook got traction while the others did not. That's called competition, and we generally think that leads to a healthy economy. Yet, the founders of ConnectU, the competing site that went nowhere, sued Zuckerberg and Facebook over this, and both sides were pushed by a judge to settle out of court -- and that appears to be exactly what's happening. The NY Times is reporting that Facebook has reached some sort of settlement with ConnectU's founders.

This sort of thing was inevitable, but it's still problematic. With Facebook generating so much publicity lately, and potentially gearing up for an IPO, it doesn't want these types of lawsuits hanging over it. So it's worth more to just settle and pay up, even if the claim itself is bogus. Yet, all this really does is encourage more similar lawsuits from companies that lost in the marketplace whining about competitors who did a better job executing. While some may say the ConnectU case is different because Zuckerberg worked with ConnectU for a few months, that hardly changes the basic facts of the case. This wasn't a new idea, and it's unlikely that ConnectU had done anything remarkably different than other competitors out there. In fact, it seems clear that it did not, since the site never went anywhere. Yet, because it's cheaper for Facebook to pay out and keep this quiet, ConnectU's founders get paid for failing in the marketplace. That's a bad precedent no matter how you look at it.

Filed Under: copying, litigation, mark zuckerberg, social networks
Companies: connectu, facebook


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 7 Apr 2008 @ 7:33pm

    Re: Research

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