Facebook's Assets Frozen Over Insane Legal ClaimS

A New York Supreme Court justice blocked Facebook from transferring any assets, so a wood pellet distributor from Wellsville, New York can press his case that he's the real inventor of the social network. This is crazy on many levels.

The claimaint, Paul Ceglia, purports to have signed a contract with Facebook in April 2003 to design and develop the original Facebook at TheFacebook.com, according to the Guardian's Jemima Kiss, and furthermore to have been given a 50 percent stake in the site as partial payment. This was eventually ratcheted up to 84 percent by another contract provision that awarded him equity the longer he worked on the site, meaning that Ceglia is claiming to be worth around $5.5 billion.

Ceglia's claims have suddenly become important, because the temporary block placed on Facebook effectively bars it from raising money, since fundraising requires a transfer of equity. So it's worth noting that the Web domain he claims to have been hired to design, TheFacebook.com, was not registered by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg until January 11, 2004, according to internet "whois" records, some nine months after Zuckerberg supposedly hired Ceglia in April 2003. Furthermore, the site Zuckerberg created at Harvard before Facebook, and which by most accounts inspired Facebook, did not go online until October 2003, six months after Ceglia was supposedly hired. In fact, prior to that October launch, Zuckerberg hadn't even met Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, who woud later claim Zuckerberg stole the idea for Facebook from them.

Facebook lawyers have filed to have the case, recently transferred to federal court, dismissed on the grounds that it is "frivolous," "outlandish," and in any case likely barred by the statute of limitation on contract disputes. This is one time, amid all the lawsuits and legal inquiries raining down on Facebook, that they're almost certainly right.

[[Photo of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg via Getty]