It took an entire movie, The Social Network, to dramatize the legal issues surrounding the creation of Facebook and even then there were plenty of loose ends to consider, not the least of which those that Chief Judge Alex Kosinski has resolved in an 11-page opinion upholding Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss’ 2008 settlement of their claims against the company (a deal now worth a reported $160 million). The twins had asserted that Facebook did not disclose an accurate valuation of the company in 2008 and appealed their deal. Kosinski brushed off that notion, affirming a district court finding that the duo were going to make plenty of dough and they were sophisticated businessmen aided by a pack of lawyers and experts, including their own dad, a prof at the Wharton business school and an authority on corporate valuation. But before the ink had dried on that favorable Facebook decision, another legal claim against his ownership of the company has re-arisen, dating from a 2003 contract in which a curious businessman named Paul Ceglia claims he received 50 percent ownership from Mark Zuckerberg in a project called “the face book.”
Ceglia, a convicted felon, originally filed his claim a year ago, then represented by a small-town, Upstate New York lawyer; the action lacked key supporting evidence and it got tossed. But he’s baaack with an amended complaint, this time with the backing of the big-name firm DLA Piper and with purported emails and a contract. As Ceglia tells it, there’s also an explanation for the seven-year delay in seeking billions of dollars from the now successful Facebook: his arrest for defrauding customers of his wood-pellet business, he said, led him to paw through old files, at which point he stumbled upon the key documents that he says substantiate his claims.