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Paul Ceglia Claims to Own 84-Percent of Facebook, Zuckerberg Disagrees

paul cegliaPaul Ceglia thinks he should own 84-percent of Facebook. And he's not kidding. Last month, the Web designer from New York filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court of Allegheny County, claiming that he had signed a contract with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in 2003 that gave him partial ownership of what would eventually become the world's most popular social networking site. According to prosecutors, the contract, signed April 28th, 2003, stipulated that Ceglia would pay a $1,000 fee to Zuckerberg, in exchange for 50-percent ownership of the site. Ceglia also claims that the terms of the contract specified that he "would acquire an additional 1-percent interest in the business, per day, until the website was completed." By his calculations, then, he should have held 84-percent of the company, as of February 4th, 2004.

Facebook, of course, dismisses Ceglia's suit as frivolous, and, in a statement, vowed to "
fight it vigorously." In response to the suit, Allegheny County Judge Thomas Brown ordered that all of Facebook's transfers be frozen -- an order that the company is asking a federal judge to strike down.

The Wall Street Journal got its hands on a copy of the contract, and pointed out some interesting peculiarities. The terms of the contract, for example, don't
specify what other services Ceglia would provide for Zuckerberg besides the $1,000 fee. The date of the contract also conflicts with earlier accounts of Facebook's creation. Zuckerberg created a forerunner to Facebook in October and November 2003, called Facemash, but didn't register the domain name 'thefacebook.com' until January 2004.

Ceglia, it should be noted, already has a curious legal history. In 2009, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo filed a suit against Ceglia's wood-pellet fuel company, alleging that he and his wife took $200,000 from customers without delivering products or refunds. According to the Attorney General's office, the case is ongoing. All things considered, then, we don't think it's very likely that this suit will go that far -- especially considering how many accusations of partial ownership Facebook's already deflected. As SecondMarket managing director Adam Olivieri says, "I think people will read this and take it to be a lawsuit that will be dealt with pretty quickly by Facebook." [From: Reuters and Wall Street Journal, via: Huffington Post]

Tags: business, contract, facebook, lawsuit, MarkZuckerberg, PaulCeglia, SocialNetworking, top