Facebook says Ceglia contract was likely 'forged'

Facebook releases statement Friday saying it suspects the contract a New York man presented claiming he owns 84 percent of the company was fabricated.

Facebook said in a statement Friday that a lawsuit from a man who claims he owns 84 percent of the company is based on a contract that was likely "forged." It's an unusually forceful denial coming from a company that prefers not to talk about pending litigation.

A Facebook lawyer had initially said that the company was "unsure" whether CEO Mark Zuckerberg had ever signed an agreement with the plaintiff, New York resident Paul Ceglia, to help build something called "The Face Book" in 2003 and in which Ceglia would have an 84 percent stake today. Documents provided by Ceglia indicated that something that appears to be Zuckerberg's signature does indeed appear on a contract. But in his high-profile "ABC World News" interview on Wednesday night , Zuckerberg said that "I think we were quite sure that we did not sign a contract that says that they have any right to ownership over Facebook."

Now, an official Facebook statement backs him up and goes so far as to say the company believes the contract is probably a phony.

"Mark has made it clear that Ceglia's claims are absurd and we strongly suspect the contract is forged," explained a statement from Facebook originally provided to ABC News, the outlet that aired the interview, on Friday. "However, we have not seen the original (no one has, including the court). Thus, we're focusing on the things that are not open to interpretation and are indisputable--Mark could not have given interest in a company that didn't exist or an idea he had not thought of yet and, even if he could, the statute of limitations has expired."

About the author

Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.

 

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