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The Almighty Buck The Courts

Facebook Wants Ownership Case Thrown Out 266

crimeandpunishment writes "Attorneys for Facebook and a New York man claiming majority ownership of the site faced off in a Buffalo courtroom Tuesday, and if Facebook gets its way there won't be too many more days in court. The site wants to get Paul Ceglia's claim thrown out of court. He claims a seven-year-old agreement with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg entitles him to 84 percent of the company. Facebook acknowledges Ceglia and Zuckerberg worked together, but says the contract Ceglia submitted was full of 'things that don't make sense.'"
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Facebook Wants Ownership Case Thrown Out

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  • Doesn't matter (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Monkeedude1212 ( 1560403 ) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @06:58PM (#32984468) Journal

    Regardless of whether it makes sense or not, a contract is a contract. If a Lawyer can make sense of it - WHAMMO - you're done.

  • by drsmack1 ( 698392 ) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @07:01PM (#32984498)
    I looked into the merits of the case and it seems to me that Ceglia has a valid case and the defendants are using SCO-like defense tactics already at this early point.

    Even with that said, it always seems that the guy with the biggest legal fund wins.

    So, predict away!
  • Google Me (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Enderandrew ( 866215 ) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .werdnaredne.> on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @07:08PM (#32984558) Homepage Journal

    The average user doesn't know how much of a dick Zuckerberg is. But this trial will expose that to more of the public, as will the upcoming Fincher movie.

    And frankly Zuckerberg's history of screwing over other early partners, and intentionally screwing his users by constantly changing privacy settings to expose users will come out as evidence that he sought to exploit Ceglia and never honor the contract.

    In the meantime, Google is putting together a Facebook killer. And the killer feature will be that your Mafia Wars and Farmville accounts will transfer over to this new social network, Google Me.

  • Re:make sense? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Surt ( 22457 ) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @07:29PM (#32984720) Homepage Journal

    Are you telling me the VCs wouldn't have a contract with Zuckerberg that says he owes them absolutely everything if he failed to disclose a prior contractual obligation materially affecting the company? That would be crazy stupid if true.

  • Re:make sense? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Beardo the Bearded ( 321478 ) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @07:29PM (#32984728)

    Yeah, that's just stupidity on FB's part.

    "Look, you've got a claim to 84% of something that's not worth a lot of direct cash. You'll have to prove it in court. After maybe five years of appeals, you'll be exhausted personally and financially, and you'll have at most, 25% chance of having this work out. You can spend millions to maybe make millions.

    "Or, if I can direct your attention to this new contract and cheque for X million dollars, we have another option available..."

  • Re:Google Me (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @07:58PM (#32984948)

    Umm, you do know who they're working with right? Zynga, the other Facebook company that doesn't care about users.

    That's just bullshit.

    Zynga has worked diligently to improve it's customer service. If you're referencing the "scamville" situation that was reported by TechCrunch last year, I'd suggest you read the follow-up articles also posted by TechCrunch praising the approach that Zynga took in completely removing those offers from all games until they were able to gain better control. In fact, one of those offer companies is likely to go out of business soon because they recently lost out on a facebook bid to be the lone offer provider of facebook credits. (see link here [])

    Zynga certainly hasn't been a perfect company in terms of user relations, but they have been one of the very few who have publicly acknowledged their problems and worked to get them corrected.

  • Re:make sense? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by blair1q ( 305137 ) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @08:03PM (#32984980) Journal

    Depends on his lawyers more than him.

    They'll be looking at hundreds of millions of dollars in legal fees, no matter how long it takes. And they can offer to work on contingency.

    If they believe it's righteous, they won't let anyone offer him X million. It's going to be a big chunk of the company, or it's going to go to court.

    In truth, depending on what the VCs own, it may end up being only a big chunk of Zuckerberg's personal share of the company.

    Though the fact that Zuckerberg may not have had the right to enter into deals with the VCs, since Ceglia may be the true owner of the company, may end up costing Zuckerberg all of his nut.

    This isn't going away for 8 figures.

  • by Tanman ( 90298 ) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @08:09PM (#32985014)

    Sally: TEACHER, I told Billy he could have my crackers yesterday if he'd give me his desser TODAAAAAAAY!
    Teacher: Is that true, Billy?
    Billy: But, but, I didn't KNOW my mommy was gonna make BROWNIES. SALLY just gave me an oreooo!
    Teacher: Now Billy, you made a legally binding agreement with Sally. I'm afraid that I will have to enforce the terms of the contract, as Sally did uphold her end of the bargain. If you thought you might be getting a brownie today, then you should have just waited and shown some restraint and considered any future ramifications from your actions.

  • Re:make sense? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by HarvardAce ( 771954 ) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @08:27PM (#32985138) Homepage
    According to the book The Facebook Effect, Zuckerberg only owns 24% of the company at this point. Or at least that's the citation on that number on Facebook's wikipedia page.
  • Re:make sense? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BitterOak ( 537666 ) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @08:30PM (#32985170)

    It could be the VCs want it to go forward. Zuckerberg right now maintains the majority share (that's my understanding), and I'll bet he's a pain to work with. Suppose this guy gets 85%, he's not going to want to run the company, he's going to let the VCs do it. Major win for them.

    Depends if the 85% is a just a percentage of Zuckerberg's stake in the company, or 85% of the whole company, in which case he'd get a sizable chuck of the VCs' stake as well. That would suck for the VCs.

  • Re:make sense? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by schmidt349 ( 690948 ) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @10:21PM (#32985922)

    A contract alleged by a guy who's currently under federal indictment for fraud alleges he owns 84% of Facebook based on a seven year-old contract he never bothered to assert any rights under and is therefore barred by the statute of limitations. If you believe a damn word that huckster says I have a bridge to sell you on the cheap.

  • by quadelirus ( 694946 ) on Wednesday July 21, 2010 @11:35PM (#32986352)
    My question: why didn't this come out like, say, 5 years ago instead of a full 7 years after facebook's launch?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 22, 2010 @01:12AM (#32986710)

    sweet potato Jesus... at least he could have named it something different.

  • Re:make sense? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @02:03AM (#32986940) Journal
    Has Facebook or Zuckerberg come out and said that the contract doesn't exist or is fraudulent?

    So far they're just claiming the contract was full of stuff that doesn't make sense. That's a rather weak rebuttal don't you think?

    OK the Facebook lawyer has serious questions about the authenticity of the contract? Yeah, go submit those questions to court.

    They don't outright state the contract is invalid. I guess they're covering their butts just in case Zuckerberg "forgot" to tell them yet another little detail...

    Zuckerberg doesn't seem that squeaky clean a character either.

    Do contracts automagically expire after 7 years? I doubt it. If it's about exerting rights, lots of shareholders don't do much with their rights, but they do get interested if the CxOs start talking about selling the company without giving the shareholders their "fair share".
  • legal nonsense (Score:3, Interesting)

    by popo ( 107611 ) on Thursday July 22, 2010 @05:07AM (#32987422) Homepage

    1. Ad Hominem attack bears zero relevance to the enforceability of the contract.

    2. Seven years time between enactment and seeking enforcement is not a lot.

    3. Statute of limitations? What? Show me that law please.

    4. Did you sign a contract which states that you will deliver said bridge? If so, you're the one in hot water.

As of next Tuesday, C will be flushed in favor of COBOL. Please update your programs.