Has there ever been a company with more bizarre claims to ownership than Facebook? There have already been two high profile claims of others who say that Mark Zuckerberg “took” the idea of Facebook from them. But this latest claim may be the most bizarre of all.
Facebook rejected as “frivolous” a lawsuit filed by a New York man who claims he owns an 84 per cent stake in the social network.
The world’s No 1 social networking also said a temporary restraining order restricting the transfer of its assets issued by a Supreme Court judge in New York’s Allegany County would have no impact on its business.
In a civil lawsuit filed in the Supreme Court of New York’s Allegany County on June 30, Paul Ceglia said he signed a contract with Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg in in April 2003 to develop and design a website called “The Face Book,” or “The Page Book,” by January 1, 2004.
The terms of the contract entitled Ceglia to a $ 1,000 fee and a 50 percent stake in the product, which eventually was launched as thefacebook.com, according to the lawsuit.
The contract also stipulated that Ceglia “would acquire an additional 1 percent interest in the business, per day, until the website was completed,” and the suit said that by Feb. 4, 2004, Ceglia’s stake in Facebook totalled 84 percent.
The project, for which Ceglia was paid $US1000 and received a 50 per cent stake, was completed 34 days late, giving Ceglia an additional 34 per cent stake in the business, the lawsuit said.
A Facebook spokesman said in a statement that the suit “is completely frivolous and we will fight it vigorously.” The company also said the case has been moved to federal court, where Facebook has asked that Allegany Court Judge Thomas Brown’s recent order restricting the transfer of Facebook assets be struck down.
Facebook’s Barry Schnitt said: “The order will not affect our ability to do business but we do not believe it is legally supported and we have moved to have it vacated.”
Facebook, which has nearly 500 million members, is the world’s No.1 Internet social networking service and ranks among the Web’s most popular sites, alongside Google Inc, Yahoo Inc and Microsoft Corp. The privately held Facebook is also one of the most closely-watched Web companies by investors eager for a blockbuster initial public offering.
In December 2009, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo obtained a temporary restraining order against a wood-pellet fuel company owned by Ceglia and his wife Iasia, of Wellsville, New York. Cuomo’s suit alleged that Allegany Pellets took $ 200,000 from customers and failed to deliver any products or refunds.
“This company and its owners repeatedly lied to consumers and continued to solicit new orders despite an inability to deliver wood pellets that were bought and paid for months before the winter heating season began,” Cuomo said. [via Reuters and Sydney Morning Herald]