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Facebook Disclosed E-Mail Passwords in Court Filing, Ceglia Says

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Sept. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Paul Ceglia, who claims a 2003 contract with Mark Zuckerberg made him a partner in Facebook Inc., said the company’s lawyers committed an “egregious and massive violation” of his privacy by publishing his e-mail passwords.

Facebook’s lawyers, from the 1,000-lawyer firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, included passwords to Ceglia’s Web-based e-mail accounts in a court document filed Sept. 1 in federal court in Buffalo, New York, according to a filing by Ceglia. The papers were removed from the public file the next day and Ceglia, in Ireland, changed the passwords, according to his lawyers.

“Counsel’s baffling misconduct resulted in Ceglia’s e-mail accounts being accessible to the world for 12 hours,” his lawyers said in court papers. They said they intend to ask the court for sanctions and attorneys fees. The lawyers, Paul Argentieri and Jeffrey Lake, didn’t immediately return voice-mail messages today seeking comment on the matter. Andrew Noyes, a Facebook spokesman, declined to comment.

The dispute over Ceglia’s e-mails came as Facebook and Ceglia battle over the exchange of evidence relating to the 2003 contract. In a court hearing in Buffalo last month, U.S. Magistrate Judge Leslie Foschio ordered Ceglia, 38, to give Facebook access to his Web-based e-mails, which he has said he used to communicate with Zuckerberg in 2003 and 2004.

Zuckerberg has said he signed a contract with Ceglia in 2003 to do work on StreetFax, a business Ceglia was trying to start at the time. The contract made no reference to Facebook, which he started in 2004, according to Zuckerberg.

Facebook Claim

Facebook, which operates the biggest social-network website, has called Ceglia’s claim to a share in the company a fraud on the court. Closely held Facebook, based in Palo Alto, California, may be valued at $71.2 billion, according to Sharespost.com, which tracks non-public companies.

At the Buffalo hearing, Gibson Dunn partner Orin Snyder told Foschio that Facebook’s outside computer experts had found an image of the genuine contract signed by Zuckerberg on one of Ceglia’s computers. That contract, which the company filed with the court, refers only to StreetFax and makes no mention of Facebook.

The case is Ceglia v. Zuckerberg, 1:10-cv-00569, U.S. District Court, Western District of New York (Buffalo).

To contact the reporter on this story: Bob Van Voris in Manhattan federal court at rvanvoris@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha mhytha@bloomberg.net