A few days ago, at the Allen & Co. mogul conference in Sun Valley, Mark Zuckerberg was approached by a “fan” apparently seeking an autograph. The fan was actually a process server who handed him a lawsuit.And now we know what that lawsuit was about.
A man in New York state claims he owns 84% of Facebook based on a two-page “contract” he entered into with Mark Zuckerberg 7 years ago–9 months before Facebook was founded.
Who is the man?
Now, this claim sounds (and almost certainly is) ridiculous–especially coming 7 years after the fact. But Ceglia was apparently persuasive enough that a New York court has issued a temporary restraining order that bars Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg from transferring any assets. The timeline of Facebook’s founding also makes it highly unlikely that the case has any merit.
The restraining order was filed by a state court, and state courts do occasionally go batty. Facebook has since filed to have the lawsuit transferred to a Federal court, which will probably help the company’s cause. Facebook has also filed a motion to strike the restraining order (embedded below). Once it gets that taken care of, it will likely attack the lawsuit itself.Here are some more details about the purported contract from the Wall Street Journal:
In his suit, Mr. Ceglia claims he signed a contract with Mr. Zuckerberg on April 28, 2003, to develop and design a website, paying a $1,000 fee but getting a 50% stake in the product. The contract stipulated that Mr. Ceglia would get an additional 1% interest in the business for every day after Jan. 1, 2004, until it was completed…
A copy of the contract seen by The Wall Street Journal says it is “for the purchase and design of a suitable website for the project Seller [Mr. Zuckerberg] has already initiated that is designed to offer the students of Harvard university [sic] access to a wesite [sic] similar to a live functioning yearbook with the working title of ‘The Face Book.'”
The contract was signed 8 months before Mark actually registered the domain thefacebook.com in January 2004.
One other fact worth mentioning: Last year, New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo accused Ceglia of defrauding the customers of his wood-pellet fuel company.