Facebook agreed in 2008 to settle the dispute over who came up with the idea for the social network by giving Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss $20 million in cash and partial ownership of Facebook. As Facebook is now valuated at around $50 billion, the settlement is now estimated to be worth more than $160 million.
“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,” wrote Chief Judge Alex Kozinski in the decision. “And the courts might have obliged, had the Winklevosses not settled their dispute and signed a release of all claims against Facebook.”
If you missed “The Social Network,” the original case against Facebook (and Zuckerberg) was brought in 2004 by the Winklevosses, along with their partner Divya Narendra. The twins and Narendra were the founders of ConnectU (originally called Harvard Connection), also a social networking site.
In 2003, ConnectU hired Zuckerberg to write some code for their website, and a few weeks later Zuckerberg launched thefacebook.com. The twins claimed Zuckerberg copied their idea and used source code for his own site.
But after a $65 million settlement in 2008, the Winklevoss twins were not satisfied with their payout from Zuckerberg, so in December 2010 the twins filed a new lawsuit seeking further compensation – leading to the judge’s ruling.