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ConnectU Given Time In Facebook Prosecution

Facebook on Wednesday was given a boost in its defense of an intellectual-property lawsuit after a judge told prosecutor ConnectU it did not have enough evidence to prove that Facebook stole its ideas. However, there still isn't an end in sight to the case, as the Massachusetts Federal Judge gave ConnectU's founders Divya Narendra and Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss two weeks to produce factual evidence that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and a group of early Facebook employees had stolen ConnectU's business model and code. After the Aug. 8 deadline, Facebook will have two weeks to respond

The judge's decision could be chalked up as a loss for Facebook, which sought to have the case dismissed. ConnectU, which has less than 100,000 members, compared to Facebook's 30 million-plus, brought allegations ranging from breach of confidence to misappropriation of trade secrets. Now, the case won't likely see more action until the fall.

Still, the judge said even ConnectU's strongest claims were on rickety ground. "It's gossamer thin on the question of contract," Judge Douglas P. Woodlock said. Zuckerberg, a one-time employee of ConnectU, never signed a formal contract with the plaintiffs, whose so-called "paper trail" is limited to emails and telephone voice-mail messages. Meanwhile, the majority of these claims date back to the days before either ConnectU or Facebook became a formal company, when both parties were students at Harvard.

Read the whole story at CNET »

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