Facebook CEO calls shenanigans on ownership claim

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says that claims by a New York man that he is entitled to an 84% ownership of the social networking site are completely baseless.

Last week, a man named Paul Ceglia claimed that in 2003 he and Zuckerberg briefly worked together on an idea that would later become Facebook. Ceglia claims at that time the two signed a contract that would entitle him to 84% ownership of the site.

Zuckerberg was tepid in his initial response to the lawsuit but on last night’s ABC World News program he said, “I think we were quite sure that we did not sign a contract that says that they have any right to ownership over Facebook.”

Ceglia has presented the contract as evidence in the case, according to a Bloomberg report. The man’s lawyer Paul Argentieri says that Zuckerberg’s defense is not quite good enough. “If he thinks he can go to court and give an answer like that — I think it’s not possible,” he said.

Zuckerberg does not deny that Ceglia helped do some work for him to create what would eventually become Facebook. He only denies signing a contract that entitles Ceglia to any ownership of the site.

Nonetheless, the sensational story is prime fodder for the tech media. It’s so easy to imagine – a college kid with this idea to create a new website, a new company. With no huge grand vision, it’s easy to imagine signing such a contract. But now that Facebook is actually rivaling Google as the Web’s hottest commodity and worth upwards of $25 billion, this lawsuit could have cataclysmic implications.

You can almost hear the panic in Zuckerberg’s comments, as he is not outright denying anything. This could be the lawsuit of the century.