Facebook forked out $65m to settle a lawsuit in which three former classmates accused him of ripping off their idea for a social networking site.
Fellow Harvard students Cameron and Tyler Winklevos accused Zuckerberg of stealing the idea for Facebook after being employed by the pair to write code for a site called Harvard Connection. The Winklevosses and ConnectU, the successor company to Harvard Connection they founded with partner Divya Narendra, filled a lawsuit against the hugely popular social networking site in September 2004.
Zuckerberg finally settled the long-running lawsuit in June last year, although both parties agreed to keep the terms of the settlement under wraps. However, the figure was disclosed by the law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges, which represented ConnectU in the lawsuit, in a newsletter last month. 'WON $65 million settlement against Facebook' screamed the headline. US-based legal publication The Recorder, picked up on the figure.
Chris Scott Graham, an IP litigator told The Recorder: "Sixty-five million is a significant sum - it's certainly more than the cost of the defence. But it's a very small percentage of [Facebook's] valuation and therefore could be argued by Facebook to be a payment based on considerations other than the merits of the claims."
However, ConnectU fired Quinn Emanuel Urquhart Oliver & Hedges last year. The law firm is now seeking $13m as part of a 'no win, no fee' arrangement.