Facebook friends or Facebook enemies


JUST when it looked like the fuss over Facebook's early days might be about to die down, the long-running legal soap opera surrounding claims to the site's ownership has sprung another surprise. On April 11th Paul Ceglia, who last year filed a lawsuit arguing that he was entitled to half of the equity stake held by Mark Zuckerberg, the site's youthful co-founder, submitted an amended complaint complete with e-mails that he claimed would support his case for a share in the company. Mr Ceglia's bombshell was dropped on the same day that Facebook's boss received some far better news in the form of a decision by a panel of federal appeals-court judges in San Francisco that probably scuppers another legal battle being waged over the social-network's ownership. The judgment threw out a petition by two of Mr Zuckerberg's contemporaries at Harvard University, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss twins dubbed "the Winklevi" in "The Social Network", a fictional film about Facebook's creation—who wanted to scrap a settlement they had reached with Facebook in 2008. The settlement required the Winklevosses and Divya Narendra, another former Harvard student, to end their claim that Mr Zuckerberg had stolen their idea for a social-networking service, in return for a deal reportedly worth $65m, including Facebook shares. Since then, the value of Facebook has soared (it is now said to be worth up to $60 billion), which may have prompted the Winklevosses to try to get the settlement scrapped, giving them an opportunity to fight for more generous terms. But Monday's ruling rejected their claim that they had been misled about the true value of Facebook when the deal was signed. "The Winklevosses are not the first parties bested by a competitor who then seek to gain through litigation what they were unable to achieve in the marketplace," wrote one of the judges. "At some point litigation must come to an end," he added. "That point has now been reached." However, after the panel's ruling the Winklevosses' lawyer suggested that his clients would seek a judgment from the wider court.

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