Legal

Facebook founder battles former friends

SmartCompany /

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has helped connect millions of friends with his popular social networking website. But it appears that Zuckerberg has won few friends among former classmates at Harvard who have accused him of pilfering their ideas.

Aaron Greenspan, a fellow Harvard student, has thrown out the latest legal challenge to Facebook.

Greenspan, 25, filed a petition with the US Patent and Trademark Office on Tuesday, seeking to annul Zuckerberg’s legal claim to the “Facebook” name. He contends in his petition that the Facebook name was used generically about Harvard to describe any paper or computer where the faces of students and faculty appeared “in a structured manner”.

Greenspan stated that his houseSYSTEM venture had the “facebook” feature up and running months before any Zuckerberg student locator project. He claims to possess email evidence that would prove the exchange of ideas with Zuckerberg.

The Facebook name dispute came to a head after the website refused permission to Greenspan to use the name of the social network site in an upcoming book he intends to publish. The intended title was Authoritas: One Student’s Harvard admissions and the founding of the Facebook era.

Another three former Harvard students have been in legal stoush with Zuckerberg and Facebook since 2004. Twin brothers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss and their partner Divya Narendra alleged in a federal lawsuit that Zuckerberg pinched the social network idea while working for their campus dating site “ConnectU”.

The New York Times reports that the parties are close to a settlement.

Last month the 23 year old Zuckerberg featured in the Forbes Rich List, with the Facebook phenomenon driving him to personal wealth of $US1.5 billion according to the magazine.

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