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Man Who Claims to Own Facebook Will Get His Day in Court

It seems ridiculous; one of those lawsuits that pops up and makes us laugh at the scenario while quietly regretting the legal shenanigans that allowed a case like this to begin in the first place. But valid, or just sheer lunacy, the curious and somewhat bizarre case of a New York man named Paul Ceglia, who is claiming that he owns 84 percent of Facebook based on a contract he and Zuckerberg signed in 2003, will be heard in Federal Court as Facebook’s attorneys attempt to have the case thrown out, according to the Associated Press.

Ceglia and his attorney Terrence Connors are basing their case on a alleged “work for hire” contract that Facebook founder Marc Zuckerberg signed with Ceglia in 2003. It began when Zuckerberg, a freshman at Harvard at the time, responded to a Craigslist ad from Ceglia, who was looking for someone to develop software for a street-mapping database Ceglia was working on.

Ceglia paid Zuckerberg $1,000 for his work on the street-mapping software, and while they were working together, he also claims that Zuckerberg told him about his own project, “The Face Book.” Ceglia allegedly gave Zuckerberg an additional $1,000 for The Face Book, with the understanding that he would own 50-percent if the business caught on. The two allegedly signed a two-page “work for hire” contract, which the case is based on. There was also a clause in the contract that would award Ceglia with an additional percentage point each day past January 1, 2004 that the project remained unfinished. In total, that would give Ceglia 84 percent of Facebook.

“No one’s ever said it’s not his signature or it’s a fake contract,” Connors told a Federal Court in Buffalo.

Facebook attorneys have called the suit “frivolous” and have had the case moved from the New York State Supreme Court where Ceglia filed, to the Federal Courts. Facebook attorney’s have filed a motion to have the case dismissed.

“We have serious questions about the authenticity of this contract,” Facebook attorney Lisa Simpson told U.S. District Judge Richard Arcara. “What the contract asserts is there is a relationship about Facebook and there isn’t one.”

Ceglia currently has another case pending, one filed against him by the state of New York claiming that Ceglia and his wife took more than $200,000 from customers of a wood-pellet fuel company that the couple ran, then failed to deliver either the pellets or a refund.

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