Corporate Law

Did Facebook CEO Actually Sign Contract on Which 84% Ownership Claim Is Based?

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Updated: An individual’s claim to own 84 percent of the popular Facebook Inc. social networking site, based on a years-old two-page “work for hire” website development contract calling for an up-front payment of $1,000, seemed more than a bit bizarre.

But a New York state-court judge earlier this month granted a temporary restraining order prohibiting transfer of Facebook’s nearly $25 billion in assets while the matter is sorted out. And today, at a hearing in federal court in Buffalo, N.Y., where the case has been transferred, a lawyer for Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said she is “unsure” whether he signed the purported contract, Bloomberg reports.

Even if Zuckerberg did sign the April 2003 contract, plaintiff Paul Ceglia delayed too long before filing his Allegany County claim late last month, contends Facebook in a court filing.

Zuckerberg, who is now 26, worked for Ceglia as a computer coder, Zuckerberg’s lawyer, Lisa Simpson, also said at the hearing.

The famously taciturn CEO himself subsequently expanded on Simpson’s comments in an unusual interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer:

“If we said that we were unsure,” he told Sawyer on July 21, “I think that was likely taken out of context, because I think we were quite sure that we did not sign a contract that says that they have any right to ownership over Facebook,” reports CNET News in a recap of the interview.

Earlier coverage: “Man Claims 84% Stake in Facebook, Gets TRO; FB Calls Suit Frivolous”

Updated on July 21 to include subsequent comment by Zuckerberg.

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