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Facebook files to dismiss ownership dispute

Ceglia's lawsuit 'a fraud and a lie', says Zuckerberg & Co.

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Lawyers acting for Facebook have filed a motion to dismiss the ownership case brought by former fuel salesman and alleged fraudster Paul Ceglia, which claims he is owed at least half of the company after an early investment of $1,000.

According to the motion, Facebook has had a chance to forensically search Ceglia's computer files and has found a series of errors in his case. The original contract that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg signed with Ceglia to develop a site called Streetfax has been found, and it's very different from that which Ceglia claims gives him ownership rights to the social networking giant.

"The court-ordered forensic testing has uncovered the authentic contract between Mark Zuckerberg and StreetFax that Ceglia attempted to conceal," a Facebook filing said, according to AFP. "This smoking-gun evidence confirms what Defendants have said all along: the purported contract attached to the complaint is an outright fabrication."

Emails that purport to back up Ceglia's case have been forged, Facebook's lawyers claim, and documents that he is basing his ownership case around have been amended numerous times. The analysis of Ceglia's data should be enough to end the case, which has been hanging over Facebook for nearly two years, Facebook's lawyers argued.

Ceglia brought his case in 2010, nearly seven years after the social network started up. The company sought to dismiss the lawsuit last May, but Ceglia claimed he had proof, although the courts had to threaten him with punitive sanctions when he was tardy in presenting it. If the analysis of Ceglia's data proves correct, this could indeed be the end of the road.

Facebook is keen to get this case out of the way before its IPO expected later this year. On the face of it, Ceglia's case seems thinner than single-ply toilet paper to El Reg, but if it came to trial and a jury got wowed by a good lawyer (admittedly unlikely in Ceglia's case since he's been through a few), then the company could face serious liability. ®

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