SAN FRANCISCO – A panel of federal judges on Monday ruled that Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss can’t back out of the settlement deal they made in a lawsuit charging that Mark Zuckerberg stole their idea for Facebook.
“The Winklevosses are not the first parties bested by a competitor who then seek to gain through litigation what they were unable to achieve in the marketplace,” three Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals judges said in a ruling.
“At some point, litigation must come to an end,” the judges continued. “That point has now been reached.”
Twin brothers Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss claim they enlisted Zuckerberg to finish software code for their ConnectU social-networking website while they were all students at Harvard in 2003.
Zuckerberg, a second year student at the time, took their code and their idea and launched Facebook in February 2004 instead of holding up his end of the deal, according to the brothers. Facebook rejects that account.
Hollywood made the saga famous in the hit film “The Social Network.”
The twins inked a settlement two years ago that got them $20 million in cash and $45 million worth of stock valued at $36 per share.
The value of that yet-to-be-issued stock has skyrocketed along with Facebook’s estimated market value, which was placed at $50 billion early this year, the judges noted in their ruling.
“With the help of a team of lawyers and a financial advisor, they made a deal that appears quite favorable in light of recent market activity,” the judges said.
“For whatever reason, they now want to back out,” they continued. “Like the district court, we see no basis for allowing them to do so.”