Popularized in last year’s critically-acclaimed film The Social Network, Mark Zuckerberg’s legal troubles regarding the founding of Facebook may very well be coming to an end. Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, identical twins who claimed that Zuckerberg stole their social networking idea while attending Harvard, finally exhausted their legal options on Monday as a three-judge panel ruled that a settlement deal struck in 2008 was valid.
The twins asked for the courts to dissolve a deal worth $65 million in cash and stocks, declaring that Facebook did not provide accurate information on the valuation of the company. They alleged that Facebook is worth four times more than the company said it was, an amount that would have forced them to renegotiate the terms of their agreement.
Unfortunately for the Winklevosses, the court decided that their claim was illegitimate. The chief judge working on the case, Alex Kozinski, put forth the consensus in a statement released to the press:
The Winklevosses are not the first parties bested by a competitor who then seek to gain through litigation what they were unable to achieve in the marketplace, and the courts might have obliged had the Winklevosses not settled their dispute and signed a release of all claims against Facebook.
Judge Kozinski went on to say that the Winklevosses were fully aware of the deal that they were striking, sporting a bevy of high-paid lawyers and experts at valuation during negotiations.
In many court cases, the “equivalent bargaining strengths” of both parties indicates the unlikelihood that settlement will be reopened. In an interview with the Financial Times, Eric Goldman, a professor of Internet law, was relatively blunt in his assessment of the case:
It’s hard to say these guys got duped when they had so much access to expertise. Frankly, I am quite incredulous that they’re continuing to pursue the matter. I think they would be a lot happier and wealthier if they would take that money and invest it in their therapist.
He went on to describe the repercussions of attempting to repeal the settlement from only three years ago, which would result in the twins losing all $65 million in favor of renegotiation.
Unsurprisingly, Facebook released a statement voicing the company’s satisfaction with the close of the case. Jerome Falk, one of the attorneys working on the case for the Winklevosses, stated that their party was unhappy with the decision of the court and will file for another hearing with a larger panel of judges.
What do you believe? Was Zuckerberg in the wrong or were the Winklevosses being greedy? Sound off in the comments below.
[Source – Financial Times]