Facebook Partnership Is Proven by $3,000 Check, Lawyer Claims
Tuesday, August 17, 2010; 12:07 AM
The western New York man suing over claims he owns 84 percent of Facebook Inc. has a copy of a $3,000 cashier's check his lawyer says is proof of a contract with Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg.
The purported 2003 check is made out to Zuckerberg and dated three days before Paul Ceglia claims the two men signed a contract, according to the attorney. That agreement, Ceglia said in court papers, entitles him to control of the world's biggest social networking website.
A copy of the check was turned over by a Wellsville, New York, branch of Community Bank N.A. last week, according to Terrence Connors, a lawyer for Ceglia. The Wellsville Daily Reporter published what appears to be a cashier's check on its website.
The check is the first independently produced evidence to be made public seeking to prove Ceglia's allegations that he had a contractual relationship with Zuckerberg. Connors said the copy of the check is among bank records he obtained as evidence in the case, now pending in federal court in Buffalo, New York.
Ceglia, 37, said in his June 30 lawsuit that he and Zuckerberg signed a "work for hire" contract in 2003, when the Facebook CEO was an 18-year-old Harvard University freshman. The agreement called for Zuckerberg to do computer coding work and provided for a $1,000 investment by Ceglia in a project called "The Face Book," in exchange for a 50 percent stake, Ceglia claimed.
A clause in the contract gave Ceglia an additional 34 percent for delays in the launching of the site, he claimed in court papers.
Lawyers for Zuckerberg said the Facebook CEO once worked for Ceglia, though they denied he signed away any right to control his Palo Alto, California-based company.
"We have never disputed that Mark did some work for Ceglia," Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes said in an e-mail yesterday in response to questions about the check. "Everything else asserted by the plaintiff is false and his lawsuit is frivolous, if not outright fraudulent."
The check, made out to "Mark Zuckerburg," is dated April 25, 2003. Three days later, Ceglia claims, he and Zuckerberg signed the contract in a hotel in Boston. The check appears to be signed by a Mark Zuckerberg for deposit into a Fleet Bank account and the time stamp appears to show it was deposited the day Ceglia said the contract was signed.
The case is Ceglia v. Zuckerberg, 10-CV-00569, U.S. District Court, Western District of New York (Buffalo).