Court won't put aside Facebook settlement

A U.S. federal appeals court has denied a request by the Winklevoss twins to release them from their settlement with Facebook over their allegations that Mark Zuckerberg improperly appropriated their idea for the social networking site.

Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, along with another Harvard classmate, agreed to the settlement in 2008 but the twins later asked a district court to let them back out, saying they were misled by Facebook about the value of the company's shares they received as part of the deal.

They alleged that Facebook officials told them that the value of the shares was about four times higher than the actual US$8.88 they were really worth at the time of the settlement.

The district court ratified the settlement, which granted the Winklevoss twins and Divya Narendra $20 million in cash and $45 million worth of shares, but they escalated the matter by bringing it before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

On Monday, a three-judge appeals court panel sided with the lower court, noting that the Winklevoss twins have actually fared quite well since the settlement was hammered out because the value of Facebook, pegged recently at around $50 billion, means that their shares have more than tripled in value.

"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," wrote Chief Judge Alex Kozinski in the decision. "With the help of a team of lawyers and a financial advisor, they made a deal that appears quite favorable in light of recent market activity."

The lengthy legal spat between Zuckerberg and his three Harvard classmates was dramatized in last year's hit Oscar-nominated movie "The Social Network."

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Tags internetFacebooklegalsocial networkingInternet-based applications and servicesCivil lawsuits

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Juan Carlos Perez

IDG News Service
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