False alarm: Winklevoss twins to continue fighting Facebook

False alarm: Winklevoss twins to continue fighting Facebook

Summary: The Winklevoss twins are still fighting their $65 million cash and stock settlement with Facebook. They're just going back in with a different lawsuit.


It ain't over till it's over. Facebook's longest legal saga, which has lasted seven years so far, looked like it was finally closed, but that was just a false alarm.

In a filing earlier this week with the federal court in San Francisco, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's former Harvard classmates Cameron Winklevoss and Tyler Winklevoss, who accuse him of stealing their idea for the social network, decided not to seek US Supreme Court review of the $65 million settlement made in 2008. Everyone thought this meant they had finally given up. It turns out that the twins have decided to keep fighting after all, just with a different lawsuit.

In a filing with the federal court in Boston yesterday, however, the Winklevoss brothers and their business partner Divya Narendra said they planned to ask the judge to investigate whether Facebook "intentionally or inadvertently suppressed evidence." While Facebook stated earlier this week that the company was happy the case was finally closed, that stance has now had to change. "These are old and baseless allegations that have been considered and rejected previously by the courts," Neel Chatterjee, an attorney for Facebook, said in a statement according to The Los Angeles Times.

This new claim is based on a different legal argument. Last year, instant messages from Zuckerberg emerged online and in media reports that purport to shed new light on the relationship between the Facebook CEO and the Winklevoss twins at the time when Zuckerberg founded Facebook in his Harvard dorm room in 2004.

The instant messages in question were uncovered by Facebook's legal team when it searched Zuckerberg's computer. The trio is asking the Boston federal court to look into claims that Facebook and its lawyers hid instant messages from them during litigation. The argument is that Facebook should have disclosed those communications when the original settlement was put together.

The Winklevoss twins and Narendra started a company called ConnectU while at Harvard. They say Zuckerberg stole their idea and created Facebook, an allegation the company vehemently denies. The trio originally agreed to the aforementioned settlement in 2008, but ever since it has been trying to argue that, based on an internal valuation that Facebook did not reveal, it should have received more Facebook shares as part of the deal. In other words, the group wants more than $65 million.

A lower court previously granted Facebook's request to enforce the settlement with the Winklevoss twins and Narendra. Two months ago, a three-judge appeals court panel agreed and ruled that the Winklevoss twins must accept the cash and stock settlement with Facebook valued at $65 million.

Not only do they now have to prove that Facebook violated discovery procedures, but they also still have to persuade the courts to overturn the settlement. That's going to be really difficult given how many times the group has been told to just take the $65 million already.

Topic: Legal

Emil Protalinski

About Emil Protalinski

Emil is a freelance journalist writing for CNET and ZDNet. Over the years,
he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, including Ars
Technica, Neowin, and TechSpot.

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  • RE: False alarm: Winklevoss twins to continue fighting Facebook

    by the time they take this settlement, it will hardly be enough to buy a loaf of bread.
  • RE: False alarm: Winklevoss twins to continue fighting Facebook

    Oh my goodness! Talk about a bunch of crybabies! The Winklevoss twins lost in court. DEAL WITH IT! I am so SICK and TIRED of hearing about these two going back to court after they keep on losing the case. They lose, they go back and file it AGAIN. Goodness, if anyone needs to pull a Wayne Brady* on someone, it's these two.

    *It's a joke. Not advocating someone actually pull a Wayne Brady on anybody, don't take it seriously.
  • RE: False alarm: Winklevoss twins to continue fighting Facebook

    Facebook settled with the Winklevii because it was just becoming a waste of time and it probably cost more to have Mark Zuckerberg continuing to go to depositions and being distracted than the 67M that they paid out. I wish these crybabies would go away, they got a great deal in the settlement, and you know a settlement is an agreement that the case is settled. If they're upset now, tough crap, as the judge said, "All litigation must come to an end eventually," they shouldn't have agreed to the settlement.

    The fact is their idea was some stupid dating site, and the market already has too many dating sites. If their idea had actual merit as a dating site, Facebook shouldn't have impacted it and they should have sought help elsewhere. But as of yet nothing has materialized 7 years later. That tells me that:
    1. Their idea was as dumb as it sounded when I read the description that they provided.
    2. They'd rather litigate than actually build a business.
  • It's a living

    The twins' father probably said "You know, the only thing you two have done that's made any money is suing Facebook. So get to work!"