by Carolyn Thompson
May 27, 2011
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Attorneys for Facebook are calling a New York man's federal lawsuit claiming part ownership of the Palo Alto company "a fraud on the court."
In their latest legal response, Facebook attorneys accuse Paul Ceglia of doctoring a 2003 contract that he says proves he bought into Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's idea for the site when Zuckerberg was a Harvard University freshman.
Ceglia "has now come out of the woodwork seeking billions in damages," the response filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Buffalo said.
Ceglia's lawsuit, first brought in 2010 and refiled last month, relies largely on a two-page "work for hire" contract bearing the names of both men. Ceglia says he and Zuckerberg signed the contract after Zuckerberg responded to his Craigslist help-wanted ad for work on a street-mapping database he was creating.
According to the lawsuit, Ceglia paid Zuckerberg $1,000 to develop software for the street-mapping project and gave him another $1,000 after Zuckerberg told him about his Facebook idea, with the condition Ceglia would get half if it took off.
Facebook's response said the document is a fake.
"At no time did Zuckerberg enter into any agreement, written or otherwise, with (Ceglia) or anyone affiliated with (Ceglia) concerning Facebook or any similar social networking service or website," the filing said. "To be clear, Zuckerberg did not sign the purported agreement ... which is a 'cut-and-paste' job fraudulently manufactured by plaintiff for this lawsuit."
A message seeking comment was left Friday for Ceglia's lawyer, Dennis Vacco.
"The lawsuit is a brazen and outrageous fraud on the court," the Facebook response said.
Ceglia seeks a 50 percent share of Zuckerberg's interest in the company, which has more than 500 million users worldwide. In March, Forbes magazine estimated Zuckerberg's net worth at $13.5 billion.
Ceglia also has submitted emails he said he exchanged with Zuckerberg about the launch of the website.
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