Facebook Settles 'Mark Zuckerberg is a Copy Cat' Lawsuit

Friday, 27 Jun 2008 02:44 PM

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Facebook said Thursday it is "chapter closed" on a ConnectU lawsuit accusing the hot social-networking website's founder of swiping the idea from fellow Harvard University students.

The assurance came after a federal judge in San Jose endorsed a hand-written settlement signed by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his ConnectU accusers during court-ordered mediation on February 22.

US District Court Judge James Warren rejected a bid by ConnectU lawyers to nullify the agreement and said the settlement deal was a binding legal document.

"We are happy that Judge Ware enforced the agreement settling our dispute with the ConnectU founders," Facebook told AFP in an email.

"The ConnectU founders understood the deal they made... Their challenge was simply a case of 'buyer's remorse'."

The financial terms of the settlement were edited from court documents and not disclosed by Facebook.

ConnectU creators Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss claimed that they enlisted Zuckerberg to finish software code for their social-networking website while they were all students at Harvard in 2003.

Zuckerberg, a second year student at the time, took their code and their idea and launched Facebook in February of 2004 instead of holding up his end of the deal, according to ConnectU's lawsuit.

At a hearing in Boston last year a federal judge advised ConnectU to better show the bargain with Zuckerberg was anything more than "dorm room chitchat" and advised both sides to settle matters out of court.

Facebook and ConnectU founders, in the company of lawyers and advisors, negotiated a settlement that includes Facebook buying ConnectU for an undisclosed amount of cash and stock, according to court documents.

A condition of the deal is that all parties keep details confidential or pay a multi-million-dollar penalty.

The lawsuit was seen as a threat to Facebook's existence and the Palo Alto, California-based firm.

"We can now consider this chapter closed and wish the Winklevoss brothers the best of luck in their future endeavors," Facebook told AFP.

- AFP

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