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Facebook In Court

CowboyNeal posted about 7 years ago | from the custody-battles dept.

The Courts 129

ScaredOfTheMan writes "'The lawsuit, filed by brothers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, and Divya Narendra, accuses Zuckerberg, Facebook's 23-year-old C.E.O, of stealing the source code, design, and business plan for Facebook in 2003 when he briefly worked in the Harvard dorms as a programmer for their own fledgling social-networking site, now known as ConnectU. The plaintiffs have demanded that Facebook be shut down and that full control of the site — and its profits — be turned over to them.' I just wonder why they waited so long to sue? If he really stole their idea in 2003, why wait four years?"

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129 comments

Why wait (5, Insightful)

wmelnick (411371) | about 7 years ago | (#19858793)

Until it became massively profitable, why sue? The idea of a lawsuit is to get damages. As long as you do not pass the statute of limitations, waiting is not counted against you.

Re:Why wait (5, Informative)

pringlis (867347) | about 7 years ago | (#19858847)

They actually originally filed in 2004 but it was dismissed. http://www.thecrimson.com/article.aspx?ref=503336 [thecrimson.com] has details

Re:Why wait (1)

Gription (1006467) | about 7 years ago | (#19859347)

My favorite tee shirt slogan hangs in a friends office...

"Winning is nothing.
Collecting is everything.
"

A law suit is either about being pissed off and trying to slap someone or it is about money.
The first one can be satisfying but there is something very 'school yard justice' about it.
The second one is business. (Maybe not good business but it is still business.)

Yep. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19860953)

A douchebag suing a scumbag. That's what this case is.

It's just like where you get to watch the Cyberdemon fight the Arachnotron. Amazing show of immensely nasty big guys.

---==[MoD]==[ParenT]==[UP]==--- (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19861109)

Too many lols to count.

Re:Why wait (1)

Quixote (154172) | about 7 years ago | (#19860173)

Dismissed? FTA:
On March 28, . . . a Massachusetts judge threw out the original lawsuit on a technicality.

A ruling based on a technicality is hardly a dismissal...

Re:Why wait (3, Interesting)

jebell (567579) | about 7 years ago | (#19860545)

A dismissal is a dismissal, whether based on a "technicality" or not.

Re:Why wait (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19858859)

And could the editors please start excising biased submitter comments from the article summary?

It's going to court, the submitter is not the judge or jury, and the comment space is the proper venue for opinions - not the summary.

Re:Why wait (1, Funny)

RancidMilk (872628) | about 7 years ago | (#19859307)

It's not like this is Digg, where opinion is preferred over fact.

Re:Why wait (3, Funny)

Derosian (943622) | about 7 years ago | (#19859471)

Look at the user who submitted it for an explanation of why.

Obligatory... (0, Offtopic)

Mutant321 (1112151) | about 7 years ago | (#19860225)

please start excising biased submitter comments from the article summary
*sigh* you must be new here....

Re:Why wait (1)

madsheep (984404) | about 7 years ago | (#19860453)

Insightful? How is this insightful? This is the Internet. Write whatever the hell you want in the comment field. Cry me a river.

Re:Why wait (1, Redundant)

jerkychew (80913) | about 7 years ago | (#19860743)

It's not news, it's Slshdot.

Slashdot is not a pure news site per se, it's a site supported by and contributed to by its members. It doesn't have to follow the same rules as "real" news sites, and this is a good thing. When I read the original post it made me say, "oh yeah, why did they wait so long?". If that hadn't been in the post I never would have gone into these comments.

Re:Why wait (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19859343)

Obviously this guy just came out of his parents basement and found everyone using this thing called 'Facebook'. Dont hold it against him he has no life, if he was on Facebook he would have known.

Re:Why wait (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19859379)

Stellar effort everyone for not bothering to notice that they first filed suit way back in 2003 WHEN IT FIRST HAPPENED. Bang up job.

I guess there's no need to let an annoying little fact get in the way of your stupid "everyone except me is Greedy and Souless and I'm going to feel superior if I proclaim such on an internet message board, even though it reveals what a tremendous moron I am" tirade.

Just goes to show you how a sensationalist article can have such a ridiculous effect on public opinion, even on people who should be smart enough to know better, but evidently are not. You fail at life.

Bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19858801)

How long can they wait?

frst (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19858807)

psot

you wonder why they waited this long.. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19858823)

Looks like the poster did a very bad job of reading the original article..

from the article

For the last three years, lawyers for the two sides have waged an increasingly contentious - though largely unnoticed - court battle.

Editors, please edit! (5, Insightful)

WIAKywbfatw (307557) | about 7 years ago | (#19859117)

OK, I realise that people aren't being paid to submit their stories but surely the editors are being paid to edit them?

Shouldn't they at least be reading the submissions (titles and story) and then any linked articles as well to make sure that they've been accurately summarised (not to mention relevant)?

It seems the Firehose is catching most dupes (we get the occasional one but not 2-4 a day as we did a couple of years back) but typos, innacurate headlines, poorly worded summaries and even innacurate stories (such as this one) still abound.

Just looking at the current frontpage, I can see several stories that either have titles or summaries that need editing:

Facebook in Court [slashdot.org] : the summary, which fails to tell us that the legal fight has been going on for years, and implies that it's only been started now because of greed.

Gadgets Have Taken Over For Our Brains [slashdot.org] : the summary, which references Trinity College, but not which Trinity College. Is it the one in London, Cambridge, Washington DC, Toronto, Carmarthen, Florida, Melbourne...? No, it's the one in Dublin? So tell us.

Linux Creator Calls GPLv3 Authors 'Hypocrites' [slashdot.org] : Ridiculous story that takes quotes out of context to sensationalise the issue.

Gigabyte N680SLI-DQ6 - A Mother Of A Motherboard [slashdot.org] : At last! A motherboard with three full-length PCI Express x16 slots! Except it only has two.

CEO Questionably Used Pseudonym to Post Online [slashdot.org] : An ambiguous if not misleading headline. Read the comments for more, but one thing that's not in question is that he used a pseudonym.

One Laptop Per Child and Intel Join Forces [slashdot.org] : Another ambiguous title, which seems to imply a joint venture. As Intel has joined the OLPC project it would have been more accurate for the title to simply say "Intel joins OLPC Project".

Call me a pedant if you want to but there are editors for a reason, so they should edit. Their job isn't that hard, and now they even have people looking at the Firehose helping them out, so why are we still getting so many poor or poorly-presented stories?

Re:Editors, please edit! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19859243)

digg.com

Re:Editors, please edit! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19859283)

Two words come to mind: Yellow Journalism [wikipedia.org]

Re:Editors, please edit! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19859821)

"...but not which Trinity College. Is it the one in [...] Cambridge,..."

That's all very well, but which Cambridge? Is it the one in England or Massachusetts?

Re:Editors, please edit! (2, Insightful)

Lemmy Caution (8378) | about 7 years ago | (#19859921)

Well, there is no real economic incentive for the editors to do otherwise. Slashdot is unimaginably successful. No one has voted with their feet.

It's just sad that they take such little care and pride in their own project.

Re:Editors, please edit! (5, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 7 years ago | (#19860065)

I suspect that's because most people come here for the discussion, rather than the articles. Slashdot only posts around 10 articles a day, out of hundreds of possible stories. Many of these are so late that they are no longer topical. After a while, I started regarding the article as just a general topic; something akin to the subject in a chat room, which may be followed or ignored. Many of the most interesting threads here are wildly off-topic.

In short: We don't care about TFA, why should the editors?

Breaders bread. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19861533)

"Many of the most interesting threads here are wildly off-topic."

OK, so who wants to start a discussion on how to make bread using your feet?

Re:Editors, please edit! (0)

Quixote (154172) | about 7 years ago | (#19860167)

You must be new around here... ;-)

But seriously: if editors just spent 2 minutes per story (checking the summary, doing a search on their site, etc.), then we'd get rid of most of the duplicates and assorted crap.

Re:Editors, please edit! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19860831)

It does have three full-length PCIe x16 slots. That they're not all x16 electrically isn't the point.

RTFA! (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 7 years ago | (#19861415)

Gigabyte N680SLI-DQ6 - A Mother Of A Motherboard : At last! A motherboard with three full-length PCI Express x16 slots! Except it only has two.

Bzzt! Wrong! It does have three full-length (i.e., physically x16) slots. It's just that one of them is electrically x8. So it is full-length, and you can plug an x16 card into it, but it's just slower than the other two slots.

Don't get me wrong, I'm certainly not trying to defend the incompetent editors. But if you're going to complain about other people not getting their facts straight, you damn well ought to get them straight yourself!

Re:you wonder why they waited this long.. (1)

foleym (980890) | about 7 years ago | (#19860779)

Maybe the poster was Mark Zuckerberg. If portfolio.com is not going to post wrong information, surely slashdot will.

The american dream (-1, Redundant)

tenverras (855530) | about 7 years ago | (#19858825)

Let someone else do all the work, then find a way to legally steal it and assume all the riches

Re:The american dream (1)

AHumbleOpinion (546848) | about 7 years ago | (#19859651)

Let someone else do all the work, then find a way to legally steal it and assume all the riches.

Did you not even read the summary: "... stealing the source code, design, and business plan ..."?

Re:The american dream (1)

nomadic (141991) | about 7 years ago | (#19860175)

Did you not even read the summary: "... stealing the source code, design, and business plan ..."?

Please remember Rule of Slashdot #17, "All lawsuits are frivolous, unless they're against Microsoft."

Re:The american dream (1)

epee1221 (873140) | about 7 years ago | (#19860583)

Clearly somebody is doing something like that here. We just don't know if it's the plaintiffs or the defendants.

Re:The american dream (2, Insightful)

john82 (68332) | about 7 years ago | (#19860915)

The other points of the greater argument notwithstanding, there is a significant difference between copying (stealing) a business plan and successfully realizing that plan. Further, it is highly unlikely that the code of Facebook today is identical and unimproved over a source base allegedly stolen some four years ago. In short while the origin of this service is in doubt, those behind Facebook made it work.

Not four years, suit filed 2003 (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19858829)

The lawsuit was filed in 2003 actually. This has been an on-going battle for years. There is merit to this case. http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=connectu+face book [google.com]

Re:Not four years, suit filed 2003 (1)

jamesh (87723) | about 7 years ago | (#19858863)

I wonder if you'll be the sole voice of reason in the US-court-system-bashing that is slashdot... or at least you'll be the only one to read the article!

of course, sue now (2, Interesting)

ghostlibrary (450718) | about 7 years ago | (#19858835)

> If he really stole their idea in 2003, why wait four years?"

Because suing isn't about moral properness, suing is a business decision. You sue to profit. That's why you sue for money instead of, say, a sincere apology. Everyone's had business ideas and get-rich schemes stolen, you only sue if someone actually manages to succeed with your half-baked never-completed plan.

(Put me in the school of "it's not the idea or the code, it's the execution plus luck that creates success" school of thought.)

'Apology only lawsuits' are limited to kindergarten playgrounds, I guess.

Then there's the whole 'lawsuit as vengeance' school of thought, but in some ways that's even worse than suing just for money.

The more I write this, the more I increase my cynicism about the US legal system.

Re:of course, sue now (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19858883)

BTW, the submitter is wrong, the lawsuit battle has been going on since 2003. Linked article also confirms, as does google: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=connectu+face book [google.com]

This case has teeth.

Re:of course, sue now (5, Insightful)

ghostlibrary (450718) | about 7 years ago | (#19859011)

> This case has teeth.

Hmm... IANAL, but the Crimson article is replent with indication that Zuckerberg was not part of their business-- "he never asked for compensation", "we would have been happy to pay for his services.", "his was not a paid position".

A contract is an offer plus an acceptance plus renumeration. Without renumeration, there's not as many teeth as one might think.

Key is "neither camp went so far as to label the partnership contractually binding." This could be in the same category as non-competes, i.e. can you limit what someone does in the future just because they worked with you in the past. And without compensation, the 'work' part is kinda iffy, more like 'talked with' or 'stopped by'.

This is where ethics (did Zuckerberg screw them over) divides with business (did Zuckerberg do something illegal). Law is murky there. Answer hazy, check again later.

Re:of course, sue now (4, Interesting)

WIAKywbfatw (307557) | about 7 years ago | (#19859165)

Interesting question.

If I look over your garden fence and see that you're building a giant widget and then you notice and offer me a tour of your giant widget do you have any legal recourse if I decide that I like the idea of having my own giant widget and then make one for myself?

My gut instinct in that scenario is that you're screwed, unless you got any form of agreement from me before you showed me it. No agreement, no case.

Is my copying your idea without at least getting your permission ethical? I'd say no but others would disagree. Is it legal? Well, if you didn't get me to sign anything then, unfortunately for you, the answer is probably yes.

Re:of course, sue now (5, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | about 7 years ago | (#19859353)

I haven't read the article, and I don't plan to and I have no particular interest in Facebook ... but this smacks of sour grapes. Okay ... he took their idea. So what? Ideas are cheap, one in a hundred thousand ever becomes anything worthwhile, and if you have a good idea and you give it away you're an idiot. You're especially stupid if you give it to someone who is better at execution than you are and don't have a formal agreement (granted, contracts are only as good as the people who sign them, but without one you're gonna have a much harder time in court.)

Now, if the guy stole their source code, that would be different. It still wouldn't be a matter "turning over the company" but it might be worth some damages. Odds are any code he ripped off isn't in service anymore anyway.

I've been through a few small business ventures (none of them made me millions, alas) and if there's one thing you learn early on it's a. find people that you trust and b. keep your trap shut. The worst enemy of a fledgling business is anyone or anything who will take what's been developed and clone it for their own profit. Secrecy is your best weapon, and until your product or service is launched and everyone knows about it, the most important secret is the central product idea itself.

Re:of course, sue now (1)

SRA8 (859587) | about 7 years ago | (#19860983)

While your comment would make sense in a completely altruistic world, we have laws in our nation which specifically disallow some of these accused actions

>> Okay ... he took their idea. So what? Ideas are cheap, one in a hundred thousand ever becomes anything worthwhile, and if you have a good idea and you give it away you're an idiot.
--> Yes, an idiot. But still an idiot backed by law if any NDA/Non-compete agreements were signed (article does not discuss)

>> You're especially stupid if you give it to someone who is better at execution than you are and don't have a formal agreement
--> Very well said

>> Now, if the guy stole their source code, that would be different. ...Odds are any code he ripped off isn't in service anymore anyway.
--> Yes, but it was used to launch the company, they wouldnt be where they are now w/o it. If they could have been, why steal the code in the first place?

Re:of course, sue now (1)

jmauro (32523) | about 7 years ago | (#19861179)

But still an idiot backed by law if any NDA/Non-compete agreements were signed (article does not discuss)

From the article it was all oral and the Facebook person was working for free. Probably why the litigation has taken so long, since if it was written down who owned what this would be sorted out right quick like. As such it's devolved into a he/she said sort of argument with all the details are murkey.

Re:of course, sue now (1)

Mike1024 (184871) | about 7 years ago | (#19860679)

If I look over your garden fence and see that you're building a giant widget and then you notice and offer me a tour of your giant widget do you have any legal recourse if I decide that I like the idea of having my own giant widget and then make one for myself?

It sounds like you might have just deduced why legal constructs like 'patents' exist in many countries :-)

Re:of course, sue now (2, Informative)

happyemoticon (543015) | about 7 years ago | (#19859373)

I'm not a lawyer, but the NDA/No-Comp angle is enlightening as to exactly why businesses are so meticulous about having people sign such clauses or contracts. This very fact indicates that actually nailing someone on these grounds is difficult.

1) Business plan/"Idea": Seems to me this would be classified as a trade secret. However, they did not attempt to protect themselves via contract. If you just told this guy, who might as well be your mother-in-law, a reporter or John Doe off the street, it's not a secret anymore.

You might also take a patent angle in these times when everything can be patented, but since these guys are in college, I'm going to guess that they didn't apply for a patent.

2) Design: The rough idea of how things fit together. This, I would say, is precisely what patents were intended for, and again, since they're geeks, not lawyers, and no materials I've read thus far have mentioned patent infringement, I'm going to guess they don't have a patent. Therefore, they don't have a case.

3) Code: I followed the SCO v IBM litigation for a few years, then I got bored. Clearly the law has a bit of catching up to do, still, because while it would seem obvious to search for identical code, it took years to get to the point where SCO would say what actually infringed.

Their case then amounts to "They stole our code!" which has been established as a pretty murky area as far as the law is concerned.

Re:of course, sue now (1)

charles-m (685375) | about 7 years ago | (#19859631)

I have not read the cases here specifically, but there is some good law on this. If you file for the copyright, then it's your code. If someone uses it without your permission, that's a crime (and a serious one) Problem is, you can not sue someone and also threaten them with a crime at the same time. In other words, a you (or rather, your lawyer) can not try to coerce someone to settle a civil case by threatening them with criminal action because that is a violation of the legal ethics under most state bars. On the other hand, if they did not file for copyright on the original code, then they would at least need a contract stating who owns the code (i.e. an assignment of rights). Without an explicit contract, generally the law says that the software contractors owns the right to the source code (and is basically just providing object code to the client)

Re:of course, sue now (1)

happyemoticon (543015) | about 7 years ago | (#19859789)

What crime or criminal action are you referring to?

Re:of course, sue now (1)

charles-m (685375) | about 7 years ago | (#19860519)

Copyright infringement

Re:of course, sue now (1)

jack455 (748443) | about 7 years ago | (#19860141)

You're implying that they have to file for copyright to receive it. This has not been true in recent times. They do have to prove that they own it. Where he contributed some it might get murky I guess, but proving you own the copyright to something is not that hard. IANAL, but I've gotten lots of advice from them on copyrights after being a hobbyist musician for 19 years. There's probably a reason it's still a hobby...

btw, you don't even have to use the circle-c symbol anymore, but it's a good idea to remind people.

Re:of course, sue now (1)

charles-m (685375) | about 7 years ago | (#19860563)

At least in the state of Florida, you can not file for copyright infringement unless you actually own the copyright.

Now there are ways to try and prove you created the code, but owning the copyright is the easiest way to do this...it is easy to file and costs perhaps $50.

Now perhaps you could try to "prove" you created the code first, but my point is that the law does provide some straightforward and expensive ways to establish legal ownership.

You can file for copyright infringement if someone copies just a few lines of code. I am pretty can provide references to the legal cases which establish this.

If Facebook wanted to avoid problems, they should have developed (or re-developed) their application using "clean-room" methods.

IMHO, if they copied the guys code and he actually owned the copyright, they should both pay damages and possibly face criminal charges. Period.

Re:of course, sue now (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19860119)

This is where ethics (did Zuckerberg screw them over) divides with business (did Zuckerberg do something illegal). Law is murky there. Answer hazy, check again later.

If life has taught me antyhing it is that success 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Ideas are a dime a dozen, it is the exucution of the ideas that matter. Zuckerberg executed, the other people didn't. Its not like he syphoned off key employees, badmouthed ConnectU, or otherwise planned for their demise. He took and idea and ran with it hard.

Re:of course, sue now (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19860355)

>plus renumeration. Without renumeration

The correct word is "remuneration".

HTH, HAND.

Re:of course, sue now (2, Informative)

hamelis (820185) | about 7 years ago | (#19860441)

Having recently graduated from the (not so) illustrious institution from which this case originates.. I can safely say that anyone who was around at the time and paid attention knows Zuckerberg essentially stole the idea. As the parent poster says, the legalities of that reality are something else.

I can also say that hardly anyone actually cares. Competition, he won. We only pretend to be less cutthroat than other schools.

Re:of course, sue now (1)

charles-m (685375) | about 7 years ago | (#19860763)

Stealing an "idea" and stealing "sourcecode" are two totally different things

let them do all the hard work (2, Insightful)

Alien54 (180860) | about 7 years ago | (#19858837)

of becoming a roaring success.

Then you come in and steal the fruits of their labors. Because the way they developed it and did it is not the way you would have done it.

and their way worked.

Re:let them do all the hard work (4, Insightful)

EveryNickIsTaken (1054794) | about 7 years ago | (#19858921)

Or, the guy stole their source code and profited off it, and now they want a cut for their hard work. It really all depends which angle you look at it.

You'd expect the poster to have read the article (0, Redundant)

evilgrug (915703) | about 7 years ago | (#19858843)

...before asking a stupid question.

From TFA:
"For the last three years, lawyers for the two sides have waged an increasingly contentious - though largely unnoticed - court battle. On March 28, a resolution seemed at hand when a Massachusetts judge threw out the original lawsuit on a technicality. But because the court did not rule on the legal merits of the case, ConnectU promptly filed a new lawsuit, with a newly honed legal presentation and additional charges. Facebook then filed a terse countersuit in California federal court, accusing ConnectU of tort violations and unfair business practices."

Re:You'd expect the poster to have read the articl (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19858985)

You'd expect the poster to have read the article...before asking a stupid question.
You must be new here.

Wikipedia (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19858995)

The Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org] says "Since its original filing in Massachusetts the lawsuit has been dismissed without prejudice due to lack of diversity among parties." Anyone cares to explain what this means?

Re:Wikipedia (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19859089)

dismissed w/o prejudice = they can refile the lawsuit

lack of diversity among parties = someone vandalized wikipedia.

Re:Wikipedia (1)

coredog64 (1001648) | about 7 years ago | (#19859693)

IANAL, but I believe that this is related to the requirements to sue in particular venues. If I want to sue a number of geographically disparate
individuals I believe I'm required to file in federal court. However, if it's a bunch of people in one state suing one guy in another state you're
required to use state courts.

Re:Wikipedia (1)

jack455 (748443) | about 7 years ago | (#19860187)

everytime I go to a Harvard party it's always a bunch of white dudes...

sry, couldn't help it.

Re:You'd expect the poster to have read the articl (5, Interesting)

Daverd (641119) | about 7 years ago | (#19859729)

Facebook then filed a terse countersuit in California federal court, accusing ConnectU of tort violations and unfair business practices.

Facebook went a step beyond just that, they are also suing the programmers that worked for ConnectU at the time. I am now looking at having to pay a potential $25,000 if Facebook wins because I coded for ConnectU, simply because of this countersuit. Talk about unethical lawsuits...

Re:You'd expect the poster to have read the articl (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19860557)

Get yourself a lawyer obviously, if you were being paid as an employee and had no way of knowing you were doing anything illegal (or what they are accusing you of doing was illegal anyways) you should not be liable for anything. If you were a "partner" in the business, you're fucked and this is why they created the S class corporation; limited liability for smaller businesses.

Re:You'd expect the poster to have read the articl (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19860885)

Wow. Your famous! A somebody. I wish I was a somebody.

Difficult to check up on; not worth the bother. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19858853)

A) there's no point suing someone who has no money. Did you expect them to do it when he was in massive debt? He'd just declare bankrupcy, close the company and they'd get nothing.

B) to get full damages you normally have to try to resolve things equitably without the court. It probably takes a long time to prove he wasn't cooperating.

C) when you start suing, you have to be sure of your case. That means you have to get witnesses together and proof of your right to whatever you are suing over. He says / she says is not a good thing to risk the cost of an American lawsuit over.

Now I'm not saying they are right (I don't know and you also don't know) or have a moral right to this, but the reasons are pretty obvious.

Re:Difficult to check up on; not worth the bother. (1)

Breakfast Pants (323698) | about 7 years ago | (#19861275)

A) there's no point suing someone who has no money. Did you expect them to do it when he was in massive debt? He'd just declare bankruptcy, close the company and they'd get nothing.

Except a large portion of his assets; including facebook.com, which was even then a very valuable property. Do you understand bankruptcy law at all (you certainly can't spell it)?

Could be a lot of reasons (1)

nahdude812 (88157) | about 7 years ago | (#19858873)

Perhaps they have been trying to resolve it with this guy out of court for a while now. Believe it or not, some people have a moral opposition to lawsuits as any but a last resort.

Perhaps it doesn't matter why they waited, if the guy stole the code from them.

Musta only stole the good bits (4, Funny)

OverlordQ (264228) | about 7 years ago | (#19858891)

Well he must have only stole the good bits, loaded up the front page of ConnectU and must say that it looks like crap.

Re:Musta only stole the good bits (3, Interesting)

Angelwrath (125723) | about 7 years ago | (#19859129)

I looked at the site and it looks quite professional, actually. It looks very good considering that it's a student effort. Now if they had $100,000 to hire a UI design consultant, a graphics expert, and some expert coders, I'm sure it could look and perform much better.

Re:Musta only stole the good bits (1)

azuretek (708981) | about 7 years ago | (#19860463)

So just because they're students they should be held to lower standards? If it's not good then it's not good... regardless of this supposed $100,000 dollars worth of people they need to make it good.

Re:Musta only stole the good bits (1)

WK2 (1072560) | about 7 years ago | (#19860845)

I disagree. connectu has a nice, simple interface. It was obvious what button I wanted to click if I wanted to join. I didn't, so I can't comment on the code. Then I tried facebook. Also simple. I clicked register, and got an error page telling me I don't have javascript enabled (which is true) and how to enable it if I have one of the "supported browsers."

All in all, both of them are 1000 x better than myspace.

why wait four years? (0, Redundant)

nurb432 (527695) | about 7 years ago | (#19858899)

So you can let others take the financial risk and daily hardship of building a business, so you can come along later and 'clean up'.

Ideas are cheap, hard work isnt.

Personally, if you dont speak up once you learn of an 'infringement' you lose your rights. ( And there is no way to claim you hadnt heard of facebook at somepoint in the last 4 years )

Re:why wait four years? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19858933)

that's great and all, except connectu has been embroiled in this battle since 2003. This case will be very interesting, since it seems like Mark Zuckerberg did make promises, had access to code, stalled, and then launched thefacebook.com 3 days after he sent an email to the brothers that connectu code was on its way. http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=connectu+face book [google.com]

Re:why wait four years? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19858975)

why wait four years? just to make ScaredOfTheMan look like a tool for being ignorant of the legal system.

Re:why wait four years? (1)

rtb61 (674572) | about 7 years ago | (#19859141)

IP lawyers must love you. As for the actual reality, the harder the work the less you get paid and that is a fact. Besides everybody knows theft is by far the most profitable 'work'.

Re:why wait four years? (3, Interesting)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | about 7 years ago | (#19859331)

I didn't hear about Facebook until last year. Not everyone is a social network whore you know.

Re:why wait four years? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 7 years ago | (#19859423)

So that makes it 3 years for you to have proved my point. A year ago you should have filed the complaint ( if you were part of the case that is )

Also, since apparently there were emails floating around about the matter, its legally obvous he knew about the potiental infraction.

Sure, its not always black and white, but if you can prove a person knew about it long before they acted, they lose their rights. If you cant prove it, then the 'time limit' doesnt apply, since i do agree you cant be everywhere at once and sometimes things do slip thru your knowledge.

Re:why wait four years? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 7 years ago | (#19860095)

I'm not on any social networks, but I remember FaceBook being cool back in 2004. Now it seems to be full of all the people who join things after they get popular, rather than because they are any good.

RTFA/C - no more explaining why to sue (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19858917)

Please stop explaining why people sue people "years later" now, since it's been spelled out in numerous comments that ConnectU has in fact sought damages for years.

Thanks, MGMT

Serendipity ? (3, Interesting)

cuchualainn (1127989) | about 7 years ago | (#19858999)

Funny though, in terms of business psychology - you'll often find people with exceptional programming ability and tons of great ideas. But are too scattered and unfocused to actually run and slowly build a business from the ground up. Then on the other hand, you'll get individuals who aren't nearly as creative in the same sense. But who can take and idea and foster it until it becomes a true global champion. Maybe this could count as a kind of Internet serendipity ? As for who gets the cash ? Don't ask me ...

Facebook COUNTERSUED! (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19859035)

http://news.justia.com/cases/connectu-facebook/337 138/ [justia.com]

However, it seems like Facebook's suit is more of a leverage to get the first case dismissed. Facebook is saying ConnectU damaged them somehow, but when asked, Facebook said they couldn't identify what the damages were. This is from a company worth billions, and rejected a $1 billion buy out offer.

And the defendent list includes new people, Winston Williams, Pacific Northwest Software, Wayne Chang, David Gucwa.

Let the battle of the titans begin!

MOD PARENT UP (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19859173)

mod parent up, extremely relevant

Shutdown face book? (4, Insightful)

Broken scope (973885) | about 7 years ago | (#19859079)

Do they have a deathwish? Socially active college students everywhere won't be able to function without facebook! How will they nkow who is dating who? Where will the post photographic proof of the latest stupid shit they did? Where else will the put their whiny I hate the opposite sex notes. Certainly not myspace.. for there is an evil there that does not sleep.

You would have an agrngy horde on your hands very quickly.

Isn't it obvious? (-1, Redundant)

C_Kode (102755) | about 7 years ago | (#19859153)

I just wonder why they waited so long to sue? If he really stole their idea in 2003, why wait four years?"

It's obvious. Starting a business is A LOT of work. Why not let someone else do it, then step in and take the bankroll?

Google and Facebook (1)

jimbug (1119529) | about 7 years ago | (#19859171)

Might there be another YouTube-like deal hatched at a Silicon Valley Denny's in the offing? ~From TFA, in reference to google and facebook I thought Yahoo already bought facebook. So if he's not talking about just ads (which it seems to me like he wasn't), then what is he talking about?

Re:Google and Facebook (2, Informative)

pmac2322 (950847) | about 7 years ago | (#19859589)

Yahoo put a bid in, I believe, at $1B, but Facebook demanded $2B, and they are now considering an IPO, which would be the "first big IPO of web 2.0"

http://news.com.com/8301-10784_3-9741016-7.html [com.com]

god are you retarded? (-1, Redundant)

indy_Muad'Dib (869913) | about 7 years ago | (#19859253)

Jesus Neal at least read the articles before opening your neckhole.

"If he really stole their idea in 2003, why wait four years?"

Been fighting for the last 3 year on this, its just now being pointed out in the media because of the billion dollar turn down and the potential 6 billion dollar buyout.

it wasnt news til it was big money.

Re:god are you retarded? (1)

nihonjon (1128009) | about 7 years ago | (#19859363)

6 billion dollars would buy alot of food.

The real question is..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19859287)

When do they show up on Judge Judy? :/

precedent (5, Funny)

Jeek Elemental (976426) | about 7 years ago | (#19859365)

I hope this ends setting some kind of precedent, where lawyers everywhere are forced to reference the Winklevoss-Zuckerberg case with a straight face.

Zuckerberg stole it (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19859465)

Zuckerberg is a Jew. If the allegations involve theft, he's obviously guilty.

doesn't look the same (1)

Coward Anonymous (110649) | about 7 years ago | (#19859567)

Considering how different www.connectu.com is from facebook I'm not sure I see the merits of this lawsuit...

Re:doesn't look the same (1)

foleym (980890) | about 7 years ago | (#19860599)

Considering Zuck did work with them, I'd say there's merit. But forget about that. Lets just look at defense for Zuckerberg.. First, even if he stole all the code, Facebook's interface has changed a lot in the past 4 years so yeah, a company that makes millions of dollars per week better probably will not have the same interface as a site created in a dorm room. Second, it's not all about looks. Assuming connectU used a 3-tier archiecture (most likely, I can't say for sure) Zuck could have stolen the database and logic tiers and created his own interface, because people would just look at the interface and say it's not the same, he didn't steal it. Considering that I can steal your interface by going to View -> Source, I'd say the interface isn't worth as much. I personally spend the least time coding web interface and more on the backend. This isn't the only lawsuit concerning stolen code...for a social network. Google's socal network, Orkut has been accused of using stolen code from Affinity Engines http://www.wired.com/techbiz/media/news/2004/06/64 046 [wired.com] . Google denies it, when your code has he exact same bugs...there's probably merit.

mo3 down (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19859581)

Why wait? (1)

strangeattraction (1058568) | about 7 years ago | (#19859993)

No brainer. If someone steals an idea that has little chance of success (like all companies) then the victim of the crime simply waits to have the idea succeed (or fail). The victim can then claim his rights to the property and enjoy the benefit without the risk/work.

This was my idea! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#19860283)

I had an idea for a porn site called Assbook

not a new thing (1)

man_ls (248470) | about 7 years ago | (#19860399)

I've been hearing these accusations since 2004. It's not a new conflict. I was under the impression they were attempting to settle everything without resorting to a lawsuit, but it appears that isn't the case.

They didn't wait years to sue, they knew about the problem almost from day 1 and definitely spoke up about it. Whether the theft actually happened, or they just imagined it did, is another matter altogether.

Napster (1)

davygrvy (868500) | about 7 years ago | (#19860431)

I'm the real Napster.

MARK ZUCKERBURG IS A FUCKING JEW (0, Troll)

heil_hitler_1488 (1128071) | about 7 years ago | (#19861077)

That's how jews do business in America. Stealing people ideas and claim as their own!

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