Facebook ownership in doubt

Posted on July 13, 2010

 

In yet another story concerning someone attempting to claim ownership of Facebook (they never bother for sites that aren’t worth anything do they) a man from New York has filed a lawsuit claiming to own 84% of Mark Zuckerberg’s website.

The man, Paul Ceglia, claims that he has a signed document from Mark Zuckerberg that promised $1,000 and a 50% stake in the website that he developed at the time, thefacebook.com. The document is also reported to claim that Ceglia would receive an additional 1% of the website each day until the site was actually finished. He estimates this at being 84%… naturally Facebook have ridiculed the attempt.

However, New York’s Supreme Court has not – and has instead issued an order that blocks Facebook from transferring any assets until the issue is resolved. Facebook has now responded and wishes to get that order overturned.

Barry Schnitt, from Facebook, commented:

“The order will not affect our ability to do business but we do not believe it is legally supported and we have moved to have it vacated.”

Facebook, despite being started purely as a website for students in Harvard, has grown to become one of the most visited websites on the Internet and has more than 500 million registered members.

This Internet story isn’t the first to feature Paul Ceglia however, as according to the New York Daily News, Ceglia owns a company that was issued with a restraining order, in December last year, for allegedly taking $200,000 from customers online without fulfilling any of the orders.

There are also discrepancies with the timeline of events for Facebook, as the contract owned by Paul Ceglia states that it was drawn up in April 2003, although previously reported events in Facebook’s history state that Zuckerberg didn’t even have the idea until later. Ceglia also claims that the domain name thefacebook.com was the original site in his contract, but that wasn’t registered until January 2004 – 9 months AFTER the date on his contract.

When hiring a web developer, or designer, to design and build a website for you it is important to establish who owns the design, who owns the original code and even who owns the domain name, lest problems such as this with Facebook can occur further down the line… usually once the website in question has become successful.

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