Facebook, Social Media, Social Networking Websites, Technology

Facebook Moves to Dismiss Ceglia Ownership Suit

Attorneys for Facebook went on the offensive yesterday, filing a bold motion to dismiss Paul Ceglia’s lawsuit, which claims a 50 percent ownership stake in the company.

Among other things, the motion, which is a product of an extensive forensic investigation, calls Ceglia’s case “a fraud and a lie.”

I am excited to see this motion, and I hope it succeeds. Ceglia and his cockamamie lawsuit have had their day in the sun. It’s time for Mark Z. to move on to bigger and better things, like handling the company’s impending IPO and fixing the stupid Timeline, which is currently only useful for seeing exactly how terrible my friends’ tastes in music are.

Anyway, let’s look at Facebook’s extensive allegations, as well as Ceglia’s unsurprisingly oddball responses….

The Wall Street Journal lays out the basics in the motion (we mentioned this earlier today in Morning Docket):

Mr. Ceglia, Facebook’s motion claimed, was arrested and charged for defrauding customers out of $200,000 around the time that promotions for the movie “The Social Network,” about the origins of Facebook, began airing in mid-2010.

Shortly thereafter, Mr. Ceglia filed his complaint and produced what he alleged was a contract with Mr. Zuckerberg for a majority piece of Facebook.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, I guess. Most of the time that would mean, like, robbing a bank, or holding up your parents’ jewelry store. But Ceglia decided to go big or go home — and tried to claim ownership for one of the fastest-growing companies in the United States.

It was all well and good until Facebook, its attorneys at Gibson Dunn, and its forensic analysts at Kroll and Stroz Friedberg unleashed their impressive electronic detective work. The investigation purports to poke a rhinoceros-sized hole in Ceglia’s claim that a contract he signed with Zuckerberg in 2003 gives him ownership of Facebook:

The handwriting- and electronic-analysis experts said they found markings left by clips Mr. Ceglia used to hang the document in the sun, which the motion likened to “the tan lines caused by a swimsuit,” Facebook alleged.

Among other disparities, the forensic analysis allegedly found that ink on the contract produced by Mr. Ceglia was less than two years old and that the fonts on page one and page two of the contract were different.

Facebook claimed it found what it claims is the authentic contract — which has no mention of Facebook — on Mr. Ceglia’s hard drive. Facebook alleges an identical copy was on the server of the law firm Sidley Austin LLP, where Mr. Ceglia allegedly emailed a copy to a lawyer who was his business partner at the time.

Of course, Ceglia shot back with the obvious response to allegations such as these: hackers. He claims the Facebook CEO hacked into his email and sent a fake contract to Sidley. Ooookay then, Paul. Whatever you say:

Mr. Ceglia’s lawyer alleged that Mr. Zuckerberg planted what Facebook calls the authentic contract on the Sidley Austin server and placed the document there.

“It didn’t take sophisticated hacking to send something from that account,” Mr. Dumain said. “Paul denies ever having seen that document.”

I would like to think that this suit is winding down, but Mark Zuckerberg — and his deep, deep pockets– attracts insanely tenacious litigants like flies to s** t. So who knows how long this will continue to drag on. And besides, as soon as Ceglia falls out of the picture, you can bet dollars to doughnuts that someone else will step up to the plate. It’s such a tough life, being filthy rich.

A Facebook Founder Fight [Wall Street Journal]
Ceglia v. Zuckerberg and Facebook: Memorandum of Law in Support of Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss
[U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York]

(hidden for your protection)

comments sponsored by

Show all comments