Feeds

Judge questions theft claims of Facebook rival

Put up or shut up

High performance access to file storage

A federal judge said he needed more information concerning allegations that the founder of Facebook stole software code and business plans from the creators of a rival social networking site.

US District Judge Douglas Woodlock told attorneys for ConnectU founders they needed to substantiate claims that Mark Zuckerberg misappropriated trade secrets while they were students at Harvard, according to the Associated Press. The judge repeatedly asked for specific details of a contract the plaintiffs say they entered into with Zuckerberg.

ConnectU attorney John Hornick at one point replied that Zuckerberg agreed complete work by June 2004 on software and a database for Harvard Connection, a site that was to serve students of the Ivy League college. In exchange, Zuckerberg would become one of four shareholders in the company.

Woodlock, however, demanded details related to the alleged contract, at one point saying: "Dorm room chit-chat does not make a contract."

While it's always risky to infer too much from such comments, lawyers for ConnectU aren't likely to take comfort in the Woodlock's statement, said Ian Ballon, an intellectual property attorney at Greenberg Traurig.

"That's a pretty strong comment for a judge and it suggests a certain amount of skepticism about ConnectU's claim," he said. "In order to substantiate that allegation, ConnectU has to come forward and really define what their trade secret is."

In February 2004, Zuckerberg went on to found TheFacebook.com, which eventually was renamed Facebook. Three months later, the three remaining partners started ConnectU.

With more than 30m registered users, Facebook has clearly outshone ConnectU's fewer than 100,000 subscribers, even if claims from a Facebook director that Facebook is worth more than $10bn are no more than self-serving delusions. ConnectU founders - Divya Narendra and twin brothers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss - are seeking an order shutting down Facebook and assigning them control and profits of the site.

Woodlock went on to say: "You haven't told me anything other than there's something out there." He gave the plaintiffs until August 8 to detail their allegations. ®

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Whoever you vote for, Google gets in
Report uncovers giant octopus squid of lobbying influence
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Banks slap Olympus with £160 MEEELLION lawsuit
Scandal hit camera maker just can't shake off its past
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.