Winklevoss Twins (Almost) Give Up Facebook Suit

Dennis Faas's picture

As of Wednesday, the Winklevoss brothers abandoned an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court and it appeared that they had finally given up their long-running crusade to win further compensation from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

A day later, however, a new court document has been filed which aims to prove that Zuckerberg hid instant messages that may have helped prove their original case.

How Facebook Came to Be

As depicted in the movie "The Social Network," the Winklevoss twins were once involved in a very similar project with Zuckerberg, and their falling out led to years of legal wrangling.

While attending Harvard University in 2003, Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss approached fellow student Mark Zuckerberg about writing code for a social networking site limited to Harvard but with plans to spread to other universities.

Zuckerberg agreed to the deal (but not in writing) and was made a partner in the project. By spring 2004, however, Zuckerberg was striking out on his own, launching, which later was named to

Original Settlement at Heart of Recent Legal Squabbles

Since Facebook was based on an idea similar to that first discussed by the Winklevoss brothers and a third partner named Divya Narendra, the twins were shocked and infuriated to find Zuckerberg's project shooting skyward in popularity while theirs lay mostly dormant. They shortly thereafter filed suit against Zuckerberg.

In 2008, the case ended in a settlement, with the twins being awarded $65 million. However, they both felt this was insufficient and alleged that Zuckerberg had short-changed them by underestimating Facebook's total value. (Source:

The case then made its way to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, where in April 2011 Chief Judge Alex Kozinski ruled against the twins.

Twins Give Up on Supreme Court, but Battle not Over

In documents filed this past Wednesday, Winklevoss brothers abandoned their appeal to continue fighting and take the case to the Supreme Court. As of yesterday, however, a new court filing has been launched to determine whether Zuckerberg hid instant messages that might have swayed the original case.

Representing the twins is California lawyer Tyler Meade. He says that yesterday's court filing is in regard to a federal rule that allows judges to re-open litigation if important information wasn't produced in the original case.

He's asked a Boston judge to force the previous attorneys for the brothers to grant him access to certain documents, saying that they and Facebook's lawyers have refused to cooperate. (Source:

A Facebook lawyer says that the allegations are baseless and have already been considered and rejected previously by the courts.

As it stands, the Winklevosses have received $20 million in cash and $45 million in stock. According to reports, the value of that stock has more than doubled, to $100 million.

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