Web Designer Slaps Facebook With Lawsuit Claiming Ownership

Ceglia, a New York web designer, has filed a lawsuit against Facebook claiming that he owns 84 percent share in the social networking powerhouse, which now boasts nearly 500 million users, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal .

Ceglia filed the suit in the Supreme Court of New York's Allegany County on June 30 that claims a 2003 contract he signed with Zuckerberg entitles him to ownership of Facebook and monetary damages. In response, Judge Thomas Brown, who will hear the suit, has issued a temporary restraining order that restricts Facebook from transferring assets.

In a statement, Facebook said the order will not impact day-today business.

"The order will not affect our ability to do business but we do not believe it is legally supported and we have moved to have it vacated," Facebook told ITProPortal.com.

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The Journal reported that Ceglia claims he signed a contract with Zuckerberg back in April 2003 to develop and design a Web site. The contract indicates Ceglia paid a $1,000 fee, but would get 50 percent stake in the product, plus an additional 1 percent interest in the business for every day after Jan. 1, 2004, until it was completed.

Facebook, however, dismissed Ceglia's claims and the subsequent lawsuit.

"We believe this suit is completely frivolous and we will fight it vigorously," Facebook said in a statement to the paper.

The Wall Street Journal wrote that the contract, which the paper had seen, says it's "for the purchase and design of a suitable website for the project Seller [Zuckerberg] has already initiated that is designed to offer the students of Harvard university [sic] access to a wesite [sic] similar to a live functioning yearbook with the working title of 'The Face Book.'"

Meanwhile, the contract's date conflicts with stories of Facebook's origins in which Zuckerberg said he built an early version called Facemash in October or November 2003. Zuckerberg registered the domain thefacebook.com in January 2004.