Facebook has won a court decision enforcing the settlement of a lawsuit claiming company founder Mark Zuckerberg stole the idea for what became the world's largest social-networking website.
A three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals in San Francisco today ruled unanimously that the agreement was "valid and enforceable," noting that the settlement released Facebook from all claims.
The court rejected claims of Zuckerberg's former Harvard University classmates, twins Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, who argued the 2008 agreement should be voided because closely held Facebook didn't disclose an accurate valuation of its shares before they agreed to settle for $65 million (€45 million) in stock and cash. That year, a lower court ruled the accord was binding.
"With the help of a team of lawyers and a financial adviser, they made a deal that appears quite favorable in light of recent market activity," the court said, noting Facebook is now valued at $50 billion, 3.33 times what the Winklevosses thought at mediation.
"For whatever reason they now want to back out," the court said in today's ruling. "Like the district court, we see no basis for allowing them to do so. At some point, litigation must come to an end. That point has now been reached."
Facebook is pleased with the ruling, Colin Stretch, deputy general counsel at the company, said in an e-mailed statement.
Today's ruling affirms the agreement between the Winklevosses and Mr Zuckerberg, whom the twins hired to help build dating website ConnectU Inc. while they were students at Harvard in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 2003.
The Winklevosses and a partner, Divya Narendra, originally accused Zuckerberg in a lawsuit of stealing their idea and delaying the ConnectU project while secretly building Facebook.
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