Facebook Wants Ceglia 50 Percent Ownership Lawsuit Dismissed: Why?

   on March 28 2012 12:26 PM
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Facebook Valued At $102.8B REUTERS

Facebook has formally asked a federal judge to dismiss its ongoing case against Paul Ceglia, citing a mountain of evidence that would prove Ceglia's claims were fraudulent. Attorneys for Facebook called the lawsuit opportunistic and fraudulent, while Ceglia's attorneys claim their client, seeking half-ownership of Facebook, deserves his day in court.

Ceglia filed a lawsuit in 2010, claiming that he signed a contract with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in 2003, entitling him to 50 percent of the social networking site which was launched the following year. Attorneys for Facebook argue that Ceglia had forged documents, fabricated emails and destroyed evidence, then claimed he had waited too long to file the lawsuit and the statute of limitations had expired.

$1,000 in Start-up Money for Half-Ownership of Facebook

According to Ceglia, the 2003 contract proved that when he hired Harvard University freshman Mark Zuckerberg to help him develop StreetFax, a street-mapping database, he also gave the Facebook founder $1,000 in start-up money for his social networking site idea, in exchange for half-ownership of the company if it took off.

'Baked' Document

On the other hand, Zuckerberg argued that he hadn't even conceived Facebook at that time. Attorneys for Facebook accused Ceglia of tampering with the original contract to insert Facebook references, and forging a series of emails between him and Zuckenberg to support the claim.

Facebook's forensics experts reportedly found evidence that the ink on the contract was not older than two years, and that the contract had been baked to artificially age it.

The ink in the interlineation on page 1 of the Work for Hire document was not placed on the document on April 28, 2003. It is highly probable that the interlineation was produced within 24 months prior to August 28, 2011 (the date the testing was conducted), concluded Gearld LaPorte, a forensic expert hired by Facebook.

Fabricated Emails

Experts hired by Facebook also claimed that Ceglia had reset the system clock on his computer to 2003 and 2004, in order to make it seem like the emails he submitted were actually created at that time. Moreover, experts said that during the course of the lawsuit, Ceglia had used and destroyed external storage devices, without ever turning them over to Facebook.

No Mention of Facebook in Emails

According to the filing by law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, which is representing Facebook, verifiably genuine emails between Ceglia and Zuckenberg, from the latter's old Harvard account, contained no mention of Facebook. Instead, an email dated January 2004 shows Zuckerberg wrote to Ceglia that Streetfax was no longer a priority for him, as he had not been paid.

This is an untimely, opportunistic and fraudulent lawsuit, states one of the documents filed on Monday, requesting a dismissal. The purported contract is a forgery, the so-called 'emails' that Ceglia quotes...are fabrications and Ceglia is a convicted felon and well-known scam artist.

'Mr. Ceglia Deserves His Day in Court'

However, according to Dean Boland, Ceglia's lead attorney, the lawsuit cannot be dismissed simply because the Facebook's experts' findings do not concur with the findings of Ceglia's experts. Boland further accused Facebook of seeking to end the case before the court requires it to provide any evidence, or before a jury hears the case. Mr. Ceglia deserves his day in court, where the jury will resolve this dispute over the ownership of Facebook, stated Ceglia's legal team.

(reported by Alexandra Burlacu, edited by Surojit Chatterjee)

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