Appeals Court Backs Zuckerberg in Facebook Founders’ Suit

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It looks like the Winklevi v. Zuckerberg saga could finally be coming to an end. A California appeals court has ruled that a 2008 deal between Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg and three of his former Harvard classmates, Divya Narendra and twins Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, will be upheld.
The original deal followed a lawsuit brought by the Winklevosses and Narendra against Zuckerberg (later dramatized in last year’s movie The Social Network) claiming that the Facebook founder stole the idea for his site from ConnectU, another social networking site started by the three plaintiffs. The parties reached a settlement, and the Winklevosses and Narendra were given $20 million and a share of Facebook, all of which was worth about $65 million at the time, and is now estimated to be worth more than $160 million. But the twins sued Zuckerberg again, claiming that they were misled about the value of Facebook, and wanted the original settlement to be thrown out—so they could get an even larger one.
Now, a federal appeals court is saying “no way” to the Winkelvosses. A three-judge panel ruled that the original settlement is valid and enforceable, and in a particularly scathing opinion written by Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, he stated:
“The Winklevosses are not the first parties bested by a competitor who then seek to gain through litigation what they were unable to achieve in the marketplace. And the courts
might have obliged, had the Winklevosses not settled their dispute and signed a release of all claims against Facebook. With the help of a team of lawyers and a financial advisor,
they made a deal that appears quite favorable in light of recent market activity.”
The court is making it clear that they think it’s time for the twins to drop the case and be content with huge amount of money they’ve already received. “Like the district court,” Chief Judge Kozinski said, “we see no basis for allowing them to [back out of the deal]. At some point, litigation must come to an end. That point has now been reached.”

@adweekemma Emma Bazilian is Adweek's features editor.
Publish date: April 11, 2011 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT