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Facebook in court over IP theft allegations

Rival Harvard Web 2.0 geeks say they wuz robbed

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Fast-growing social networking site Facebook goes to court today, facing allegations that its founder stole software code and his business plan from fellow students at Harvard University.

Brothers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss and Divya Narendra operate ConnectU, a rival social site. They say that Zuckerberg agreed to complete code for them, but rather than doing so he delayed their project while initiating his own using their ideas.

Facebook has become wildly successful, with more than 30 million users worldwide, while ConnectU has fewer than 100,000.

Facebook's directors now believe the company is so valuable that they would only consider buyout offers above $10bn.

The firm has lately hired former YouTube finance chief Gideon Yu to be its CFO, and has also advertised for a stock administrator, leading to widespread speculation that it might soon go public - though this has been denied by spokesmen.

Meanwhile, the Winklevoss brothers and Narendra have petitioned a federal court to shut down Facebook and assign control of the site and its profits to them. Zuckerberg and his co-defendants have responded by asking the court to dismiss the case.

A hearing regarding the motion to dismiss is scheduled for today. ®

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