A New York man who runs a wood-pellet fuel distribution company has claimed that he owns 84 percent of the popular social networking company Facebook, claiming that he has a 2003 contract with owner Mark Zuckerberg. He is seeking ownership of the multi-billion company and monetary damages.
Paul D. Cegila claims that he signed the contract to develop and design the website on April 28, 2003, getting a US$1,000 fee and a 50 percent stake in the company. He claims that he also will get 1 percent interest in the business for every day after January 1, 2004 until the site was finished and launched on the February 4.
It may sound ridiculous that a man who distributes wood-pellets could actually own that much of Facebook, but he actually has succeeded in getting a temporary restraining order that stops Facebook and Zuckerberg from transferring any assets.
In a statement, Facebook has called the case as “completely frivolous” and it “will fight it vigorously”. It is also asking to have the case move to Federal court, according to Silicon Alley Insider (which also states it might help their cause) and filed to strike the restraining order. (It’s motion to strike is below the post)
According to the Wall Street Journal, who says they have seen the contract states that the contract states that it is:
for the purchase and design of a suitable website for the project Seller [Mr. Zuckerberg] has already initiated that is designed to offer the students of Harvard university [sic] access to a wesite [sic] similar to a live functioning yearbook with the working title of ‘The Face Book.
It also appears the dates conflict with the previous known accounts of Facebook’s own creation. Facebook’s predecessor, Facemash, was created in October and November of 2003, according to the Wall Street Journal. Zuckerberg also did not register the site “thefacebook.com” – the old name of Facebook – until January 2004.
But why now? Most likely because he needs the money. Cegila (on the right) is currently in the middle of another lawsuit with the New York Attorney General’s office after the office took a restraining order against his company, which distributes wood-pellet fuel.
Authorities, according to The Register, say that Cegila lied and took customers’ money repeatedly and failed to deliver the products he distributes or refund the money.
It’s not the only time Facebook was embattled in a ownership case. The founders of ConnectU, Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, managed to successfully get some money from the social network after settling with the company after claiming that Zuckerberg stole the idea from their network. They got US$20 million in cash plus US$45 million in stocks.