Man demands 50-50 share of Facebook, has emails to prove it

Facebook's legal problems are far from over, following the likely end of their long-going case between Facebook's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, and the Winklevoss twins. Following Monday's ruling by a federal judge which struck down the appeal the Winklevoss brothers put forward, Zuckerberg and Facebook find themselves caught in another complaint by one of Zuckerberg's former business acquaintances.

As reported by the Associated Press (via The Globe and Mail), a New York man by the name of Paul D. Ceglia has filed a federal court complaint in the Western District of New York. The complaint alleges that Ceglia had a business relationship with Zuckerberg starting from April 28, 2003. According to the document, Ceglia and Zuckerberg agreed that Zuckerberg will sell to Ceglia a 50% stake of the software, design, and "business interests derived from the expansion of that service to a larger audience." The deal went sour shortly after Zuckerberg went live with the then-named "The Face Book" on February 4, 2004.

This complaint is an amended revision, with Ceglia's claim dropped to 50% from an earlier claim of a whopping 84% of Facebook. This figure was derived based on a contract clause Ceglia inserted that would see an additional percentage point of his share per extra day past The Face Book's original launch day of January 1, 2004. Following the launch, according to Ceglia, Zuckerberg claimed the venture was a failure and was ready to shut down the site. Instead, Zuckerberg went ahead and registered TheFaceBook, Inc. on July 1, 2004, without Ceglia's consent or knowledge.

The complaint also included emails exchanged between him and Zuckerberg preceding the launch of The Face Book, which were missing from the original complaint. Zuckerberg has been quoted in one of them demanding a reduction of the 84% and agreeing to a return to the 50-50 partnership right before the launch of The Face Book.

It has to be seen whether Ceglia will be successful in his endeavour, with one of Zuckerberg's lawyers quick to point out that Ceglia was a convicted felon for possession of shrooms in 1997, although that incident was before Ceglia's partnership with Zuckerberg. A 50% stake of one of today's most lucrative websites on the Internet is likely to be worth several billions of dollars.

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