Guy Who Claims He Owns 84% Of Facebook Refiles Lawsuit

from the and-on-to-the-next-one dept

If you're successful, there's no shortage of people who will demand a cut of your success. With the Winklevoss situation nearing its close (one hopes), Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg can move on to some of the many other claims of people who say they own a piece of Facebook. If you don't recall, beyond the Winklevi, there have also been claims by a guy named Aaron Greenspan that Zuckerberg copied his idea for a Harvard-focused social network. And, perhaps even more bizarre is the claim from a guy named Paul Ceglia that he owns 84% of Facebook.

That guy claims that he had hired Zuckerberg to work on an unrelated project, and as a part of that, Mark asked Ceglia to invest $1,000 in his "Harvard facebook" project, in exchange for 50% of the company, with an additional percentage point added for each day it was delivered late. Ceglia claims that TheFacebook launched 34 days after the targeted date, and thus he deserves 84% of the company. Just as the courts were shoving the Winklevi off, Ceglia has refiled his lawsuit with more details, including alleged emails between himself and Zuckerberg concerning the investment and development of the site. The whole thing sounds more than a bit preposterous, and Facebook has claimed that the whole thing is faked, but the new emails make for interesting reading in light of the claims by the Winklevi that Mark got the idea from them. At the very least, if the emails are accurate, it sounds like Zuckerberg was working on the concept well before they were.

And while the whole thing still sounds unlikely (would Zuckerberg really be naive enough to give up 50% of a company for $1,000?), it would make for one hell of an interesting legal situation if the court determined otherwise. Of course, Facebook would clearly argue that it wouldn't matter due to statute of limitations reasons, but can you imagine how the courts would try to unwind things?

Of course, even if Ceglia won (which he almost certainly won't), don't forget that there's another guy, named Andrew Logan, who claims that he owns anything Ceglia was involved in due to a separate legal dispute, so that 84% really belongs to him.

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  1. icon
    lavi d (profile), 12 Apr 2011 @ 3:58pm


    I could swear, "Winklevi" should be spelled "Winklevii"

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

  2. icon
    PrometheeFeu (profile), 12 Apr 2011 @ 4:20pm

    I just sent $2,000 to Mark Zuckerberg which I'm pretty sure means I own 168% of Facebook. Send me my money!

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

  3. identicon
    Sirhokko, 12 Apr 2011 @ 5:38pm

    Read the emails

    If you haven't read the emails from Ceglia you should. They offer a very convincing story on how facebook got started.

    Remember Zuck had no idea that facebook would explode the way it did. At the time it was just an online college year book he was trying to get off the ground.

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

  4. icon
    Elaine Normandy (profile), 12 Apr 2011 @ 5:38pm

    Anyone else reminded of The Producers? How many times did the nascent Facebook get sold?

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

  5. identicon
    StrongStyle81, 12 Apr 2011 @ 5:43pm

    I totally should get 50% of Facebook. I had the idea way back when I was fifteen and was looking through some people's Geocities websites. I thought, "wouldn't it be awesome if people could have their own personal space on the information super highway for them to share themselves that was easier to use than this crap?" I was totally going to follow through with it too, but I decided to look up faked jpegs of Alicia Silverstone naked instead.

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

  6. identicon
    Nicedoggy, 12 Apr 2011 @ 7:10pm

    If the stories are true Coca-Cola sold the rights for distribution for a $100 bucks and a handshake, which cost them billions in the 80's to acquire back those rights from the many, many distributors out there.

    When you are small, those things don't seem so ridiculous, although I don't think this is the case here with Facebook at all.

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

  7. identicon
    Jacob, 12 Apr 2011 @ 7:18pm

    OLD NEWS...

    I came up with, and started implementation of, Facebook during the 80s on my Q-Link account using my VIC-20.

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

  8. identicon
    MrWilson, 12 Apr 2011 @ 7:26pm

    I hate to defend Zuck, but Ceglia's argument that he owns 84% of what Facebook currently consists is bullshit. Even if everything he says is true and Zuck gave him 50% or more of the company, he hasn't been involved since he supposedly gave Zuck a $1000, so he should only get 84% of the value of what Facebook was at the time. If he truly owned so much of the company back then, he should have asserted it then. It's only after it becomes successful and makes billions that he steps forward. No amount of help that he could have provided with his $1000 is comparable to the amount of work and investment that has been put into the popular privacy-thrashing turd that is Facebook today. This is comparable to patenting something, not producing it, and just sitting back and waiting for someone else to make it so you can sue them or extort a license fee.

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

  9. identicon
    MrWilson, 12 Apr 2011 @ 7:26pm


    You should sue fake Alicia Silverstone for lost revenue potential.

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

  10. icon
    PaulT (profile), 12 Apr 2011 @ 10:26pm

    Re: Read the emails

    Even if true, why did it take Ceglia 6 years to get around to suing? Funny how he didn't do it when Facebook was on the rise, only suing when millions were reported and his own business dealings were in the gutter.

    It's just another sour grapes lawsuit from a failed businessman who wants a piece of the pie that an old acquaintance has produced, even if it is grounded in some kind of reality.

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

  11. identicon
    Sirhokko, 13 Apr 2011 @ 12:21am

    Re: Re: Read the emails

    Well he claims he only recently found the written contract between himself and Zuckerberg whilst searching through paperwork with regard to the 2009 fraud case of his wood pellet business. Plausible perhaps?

    Of course he doesn't deserve any credit for the success that facebook has become, but technically if he upped the cash to get the project started and Zuck agreed to give him a 50% share in return, then isn't he legally entitled to it?

    Is it any different to somebody buying a stack of penny shares is a tiny company and reaping the rewards when they become a megacorp?

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

  12. icon
    Ronald J Riley (profile), 13 Apr 2011 @ 3:55am

    No Shortage Of Hucksters

    "If you're successful, there's no shortage of people who will demand a cut of your success."

    Ever inventor who produces an invention with significant economic value faces this problem. Some sleazy marketing huckster comes along, steals one or more inventions, combines them into a product and beats their chest while claiming to be innovators.

    It is a good thing that I have not been holding my breath waiting for Mike to show us one of his inventions. Marketing drivel does not count as an invention.

    Ronald J. Riley,

    Speaking only on my own behalf.
    President - - RJR at
    Executive Director - - RJR at
    Senior Fellow -
    President - Alliance for American Innovation
    Caretaker of Intellectual Property Creators on behalf of deceased founder Paul Heckel
    Washington, DC
    Direct (202) 318-1595 - 9 am to 9 pm EST.

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

  13. icon
    Matthew (profile), 13 Apr 2011 @ 7:28am


    Without getting into the merits of the case, i find it very plausible that Zuckerberg would make such an offer. This is not billionaire Zuckerberg we're talking about - this is poor college hacker Zuckerberg. $1000 was a lot of money to that Zuckerberg and there was no way anyone could have predicted the success of his little project. That's precisely why we have so many legal cases about it now. At the time, no one thought the details of who did and owned what mattered. They didn't even know how to make money off of it until after it was already wildly popular - it was just a big money pit for a long time.

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

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Apr 2011 @ 7:45am

    Re: No Shortage Of Hucksters

    If your sig is longer than your average post you are automatically a douchebag.

    On a more serious note, all of your websites need some serious attention from a professional web designer. They look like amateur hack jobs from the late '90s.

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

  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jun 2011 @ 2:34am

    Re: No Shortage Of Hucksters

    Haha, Ronald J. Riley, the infamous idiot in the pink shirt. Read all about him here

    Doing all he can to protect the IP scam via a website with a prominent DONATE HERE at the top. Not transparent all!

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

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