Feeds

Zuckerberg escapes scrutiny in Facebook ownership case

Ceglia wins time for experts to examine his claims

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Paul Ceglia, who is claiming ownership of half of social-networking giant Facebook, won't get to cross-examine CEO Mark Zuckerberg or examine his computer records, a court ruled on Wednesday – but he has bought himself some time to get in expert witnesses.

"We are very pleased with today’s ruling," Orin Snyder, a New York attorney representing Facebook and Zuckerberg, told the Associated Press. "The court denied Ceglia's request for broad discovery and continues to focus these proceedings solely on the question of Ceglia's criminal fraud."

Ceglia claims that he entered into a contract with Zuckerberg in 2003 to develop two companies: a traffic data website called StreetFax and a social network called thefacebook.com. In exchange for an investment of $1,000, Ceglia claims he was promised half of the latter, and in his original suit invoked a penalty clause that would give him 84 per cent of the shares in Facebook – although he's said that he'll settle for 50 per cent.

While Zuckerberg acknowledges he worked for Ceglia on StreetFax, he says the rest of the contract is nothing more than a fraud. After a detailed examination of Ceglia's evidence, Facebook claims that the contract is a fake, as are emails purporting to be from Zuckerberg that confirm parts of Ceglia's story.

Facebook's experts claim that the age of the ink on the contract shows that the details on Facebook were entered later than the StreetFax contract, and have pointed out many other inconsistencies in Ceglia's evidence. The court ruled that Ceglia could bring in his own experts to challenge Facebook's, but that he couldn't call Zuckerberg to the stand or go over the Facebook CEO's computers for evidence.

"We are hopeful that once we have obtained and presented this information, the court will deny the defendants' motions to dismiss and allow the case to proceed to full discovery and an eventual trial," a statement from Ceglia's lawyers said.

On the face of it, Ceglia appears to have little hope of success in his claim – at least as far as El Reg can make out. The New York fuel salesman only brought his case in 2010, nearly seven years after signing the "contract" (he claims he'd lost it and found it again), he's been fined for not producing evidence, and has been abandoned by not one but two lawyers.

It's perhaps a measure of the nature of the American legal system that the case has dragged on this long, based on what looks like very shaky evidence. Nuisance legal cases are quite common, and Ceglia may have been hoping to reach a quick settlement to make him go away.

It appears, however, that Facebook's legal team are keen for a fight, and Ceglia could be facing legal problems of his own if his case falls down and Zuckerberg is feeling vengeful. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Lords take revenge on REVENGE PORN publishers
Jilted Johns and Jennies with busy fingers face two years inside
Yes, yes, Steve Jobs. Look what I'VE done for you lately – Tim Cook
New iPhone biz baron points to Apple's (his) greatest successes
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.