Hours after reports of last week’s 9th Circuit decision rejecting Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss’s lawsuit against Facebook came news of another legal challenge to Mark Zuckerberg’s stake in the social network site. The suit had been under the radar–it earned little credibility when it was filed last summer–but last week an amended federal court complaint put Paul Ceglia’s claim in a new light. This story from the New York Times reports that Ceglia claims to have entered a programming-services contract with Zuckerberg a year before Facebook was formed that gives Ceglia 50% ownership in the company. At first I yawned over this suit as just one more delusional claim following a wildly successful book/movie/company (“Harry Potter was my idea! I wrote the first draft of Rent!”). Ceglia’s legal problems, including fraud charges brought by the N.Y. attorney general, supported my conclusion that this suit must be without merit. Then I saw the firm representing Ceglia. It’s not, as I expected, some solo practitioner desperately seeking headline but DLA Piper, one of the bluest of blue-chip international corporate law firms. Firms like DLA Piper do not typically take cases like this without scrutiny (or without a deep client pocket, which I doubt Ceglia possesses.
So, who knows what to make of it. Is this suit mere bug splatter on Facebook’s windshield or does Ceglia’s paper trail actually prove his claims?