Mark Zuckerberg Continues to Face Lawsuit

ConnectU founders Cameron S. H. Winklevoss ’04 and Tyler O. H. Winklevoss ’04 are continuing to pursue legal action against Facebook founder and former Harvard student Mark E. Zuckerberg, according to court documents that surfaced on gossip website Radar Online.

Dated Aug. 10 of this year, the partially redacted documents are part of ConnectU’s ongoing lawsuit filed against the young billionaire in 2008. In the court filing, Facebook’s legal team respond to ConnectU claims that Zuckerberg inaccurately reported the valuation of Facebook during the first lawsuit.

The twins—whose legal battle with Zuckerberg was made famous by the 2010 film ‘The Social Network’—claim that they are entitled to more than the $65 million in cash and stock that they were awarded in the original settlement.

“The filings referred to in recent articles are simply the filings by Facebook and the Winklevosses in the Winklevosses’ now two-year old, thus far unsuccessful, attempt to undo their 2008 agreement to settle the parties’ dispute,” Facebook wrote in a statement.

The court date for the trial is set for Jan. 11, 2011. If the California courts uphold the Winklevosses’ appeal, the original settlement will be reversed, and all claims that were originally asserted against Facebook will go back to the original litigation.

In a recent interview with “60 Minutes,” the Winklevoss twins said that their newest legal action is not about the money, but about the “principle.”

The Winklevosses first sued Zuckerberg in 2008, claiming that he stole the idea for Facebook after the twins recruited him to code their own social networking site—known as Harvard Connection and later called ConnectU. The brothers say that Zuckerberg purposefully postponed working on ConnectU so that he could develop a competitor website based upon the same idea.

According to the leaked documents, Facebook believes that the Winklevosses’ most recent legal attempt will prove unsuccessful. The court filing states that the twins’ claims of fraud are based upon faulty arguments, such as the idea that Facebook should have offered information more openly during the original trial.

“They insist that their sworn enemy had some special duty to pen its books and volunteer any information that bears on the value of this closely held company,” the document reads.

In the same “60 Minutes” episode, the Facebook founder said that he did not assign the entire lawsuit much merit: “I’ve probably spent less than two weeks of my time worried about this lawsuit at all,” Zuckerberg said.

—Staff writer Hana N. Rouse can be reached at hrouse@college.harvard.edu.

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