Another Failed Harvard Social Network Takes 'Legal Action' Against Facebook

from the if-connectu-could-do-it... dept

Even before ConnectU came along claiming that Mark Zuckerberg somehow "stole" the idea and the code for Facebook from them, there was another Harvard alum, Aaron Greenspan, who had been claiming something similar about how Zuckerberg took the idea from a project Greenspan set up called houseSYSTEM. When Greenspan's story (after years of him pushing it) finally got some mainstream press last year, we pointed out how ridiculous the whole story was. Facebook was hardly the first social network out there -- and ConnectU and houseSYSTEM were clearly built off the ideas of those that had come before them as well. It seemed like both cases involved folks who had failed to actually execute and build something that people liked, and were taking it out on Zuckerberg (who did successfully build something that people wanted to use) in hopes of either fame or money or both.

Of course, once Facebook settled the case with ConnectU earlier this month, it was only a matter of time until Greenspan realized that he might be missing out as well. So, as you might expect, Greenspan has decided to "take legal action" against Facebook, though at this point it's merely limited to trying to get Facebook's trademark on the name revoked (claiming that houseSYSTEM used the name, and that it's widely used and generic). He may actually be right that the term is generic, but it seems more than likely that this lawsuit is just trying to drum up some attention and potentially money from Facebook.

It will come as no surprise, of course, that Greenspan is really using this lawsuit to promote his "book" which has a huge section accusing Zuckerberg of getting the idea from Greenspan. Greenspan's been promoting the book for ages, with plenty of excerpts available online. The press release Greenspan put out claims that his "publisher" (which is apparently also owned by Greenspan) was denied the ability to promote the book because it had "Facebook" in the title. Of course, he provides no details about who denied him the right to advertise, and it seems odd that anyone would prevent titles with the name "Facebook" from appearing, as such a book, by itself, probably is not a violation of Facebook's trademark. Does anyone else want to claim that Zuckerberg stole the idea for Facebook? Apparently, it's good for business.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Napster, Apr 16th, 2008 @ 4:51pm

    Me Too!

    What they don't know is that I'm the real Napster...

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

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 16th, 2008 @ 9:09pm

    Im the real TechDirt!

    (just kidding, please dont sue me!)

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

  3. identicon
    EH, Apr 16th, 2008 @ 10:01pm


    The first site I knew of resembling a social networking site was CollegeBeers.Com. It was around from ~1998 to ~2003. Coincidentally, it had a section called "The Wall" with the same purpose and functionality as Facebook's Wall.

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

  4. identicon
    Ian Hendry, Apr 17th, 2008 @ 3:52am

    Facebook a generic term?

    Facebook is a generic term? In what sort of conversation would facebook (verb?) be used?

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

  5. identicon
    Powerkor, Apr 17th, 2008 @ 6:11am

    We live in a society where questions are answers, answers are questions, whos on first, whats in the chicken, when all of a sudden, i'm walkin' down the...

    I bet eleventy billion dollars that you might be legally retarded.

    Its like a bunch of grown ups saying 'I called it first!'

    Its like not even worth talking about.

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

  6. identicon
    ?question?, Apr 17th, 2008 @ 6:50am

    How Long Tell Social Networks DIE?

    Any Guess on when social network sites will go obsolete? Are people not going to get sick of constant myspace issues, cant login, hacked account, spam, porn, ect. Facebook how much income could they actually be making on ads. Noone i know clicks ads on facebook or myspace because they are scared of viruses because before when they clicked on fancy stuff on myspace they lost their accounts?

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

  7. identicon
    Powerkor, Apr 17th, 2008 @ 8:17am

    Re: How Long Tell Social Networks DIE?

    Is there any way you can make less sense?

    ... Doubt it.

    A real point to make:

    Facebook is heading in the right direction, partially. You have to remember that its applications are fairly new, and truly, there are only few that are actually of any use. Aside from all the lame 'game' apps, like vampire vs. werewolf and others that do not need mentioning... the applications are building a potent database of information that makes up who we are. In time, Facebook will adapt, or a new web (3.0?) will immerge that will make even more use of this new found knowledge.

    It is a daunting task to convert data into interests of people (even powerhouses like google have not yet harnessed the potential). Facebook is going in the right direction... if you can look passed the garbage...

    Not so interesting:

    No one cares about people who claim to have thought of Facebook first. The mere fact that it is taking up our time and kilobytes of internet-cyber-space makes me sick. Someone really needs to slap these Harvard preps in the face and tell them to shut the fuck up.

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

  8. identicon
    TheTraveler, Apr 17th, 2008 @ 8:28am

    Re: Re: How Long Tell Social Networks DIE?

    I wish MySpace would fall into a burning pit of existence! Much like your ability to make a coherent thought ?question?, MySpace is a waste of ones time that people put WAY to much weight on. Even though your intelligence is broken, you do have a point on when those who are on MySpace and face book are going to get irritate with all the adds. But alas AIM is still around and its loading with crap now as well and people still use it!
    I agree with powerkor... Face book has the potential to become a great application... they just have to tread lightly right now, and all i do is see them stomping around like a rabid black bear on a bed of packing bubbles!

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

  9. identicon
    Grant, Jun 6th, 2008 @ 8:00am

    Re: yes

    Hey man...My friend and I ran Good to see people still remember it!

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

  10. identicon
    Olu, Dec 5th, 2008 @ 2:59am

    What a crock! That case won't fly. Facebook is the real deal, only second to

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

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 25th, 2010 @ 5:47am

    Re: yes, a site for the Tallahassee, FL area, was around before ConnectU was... And even though it was a smaller operation, the site was much better in every way. I agree, it was the first social networking site. I am not sure that term had been coined back then though. The site was ahead of its time, no doubt.

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

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