Twin brothers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss who claim Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg stole their idea, have lost yet another battle. Last year, they appealed a decision that awarded their law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan a $13 million contingency fee stemming from the twins' settlement with the social networking giant.
Last week on October 6 though, New York's Appellate Division, First Department, dismissed the case. In a one-page decision, the five-judge appeals panel granted Quinn Emanuel's motion to dismiss with "due deliberation having been had thereon," according to Reuters.
Although Quinn Emanuel helped them draft an agreement with Facebook, the twins argued they did not have to pay the legal fees because they believe the law firm committed malpractice in reaching the $65 million settlement between them and Facebook. The brothers alleged that the law firm miscalculated the value of Facebook stock. They also asserted the law firm revealed the amount of settlement in a newsletter, despite a confidentiality agreement.
Going after the law firm is really just a side story of a much bigger tale. This whole thing began when the Winklevoss twins and their business partner Divya Narendra started a company called ConnectU while at Harvard. In 2004, they declared Zuckerberg stole their idea and created Facebook, an allegation the company vehemently denies to this day.
The trio originally agreed to a 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.
Six months ago, a court ruled that they must accept a $65 million cash and stock settlement with Facebook. They declared that they would fight the ruling. Four months ago, they changed their minds and said they would not be going to the US Supreme Court. It looked like Facebook's longest legal saga (it has lasted seven years so far) was finally closed.
A week later though, the Winklevoss brothers and Narendra were back with plans to ask the judge to investigate whether Facebook "intentionally or inadvertently suppressed evidence." The new claim is based on a different legal argument, but it essentially means that their war with Zuckerberg is not over.
Last year, instant messages from Zuckerberg emerged online and in media reports that purport to shed new light on the relationship between the Facebook co-founder and the Winklevoss twins at the time when Zuckerberg founded Facebook in his Harvard dorm room in 2004. They were uncovered by Facebook's legal team when it searched Zuckerberg's computer. The trio claims Facebook and its lawyers hid instant messages from them during litigation, arguing that the company should have disclosed those communications when the original settlement was put together.