Winklevii: How Can We Miss You If You Won't Go Away? (Plus the Full Court Ruling)

Published on April 11, 2011
by Kara Swisher

It seems Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, the Don Quixote twins of the digital age, have tilted at yet another legal windmill unsuccessfully.

So now, after losing another court challenge to overturn a previous court challenge, they’ll have to settle for $65 million.

Actually, $100 million, which is how much shares in Facebook have appreciated since the pair and also Divya Narendra settled with the social networking giant.

Said the ruling from the U.S. Circuit of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in part:

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. And the courts might have obliged, had the Winklevosses not settled their dispute and signed a release of all claims against Facebook. 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. For whatever reason, they now want to back out. Like the district court, we see no basis for allowing them to do so. At some point, litigation must come to an end. That point has now been reached.

The end? Say it ain’t so! BoomTown, for one, will miss those big lugs.

Not so much Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, especially since the pair allege the tech wunderkind stole the idea for the start-up while a student at Harvard University.

After much legal mishegas, they got $20 million and 1.25 million shares at a price of $8.88 each.

And that’s more than enough, said court to the the Winklevii–it’s their eternal nickname in Silicon Valley now–and they can’t back out of a settlement they made in 2004.

As for the specifics, the three-judge panel struck down every Winklevoss argument:

– They said the terms of the Facebook deal introduced after mediation were typical.

– They said Winklevii should have been sophisticated enough to understand valuation.

– They said Winklevii couldn’t use the sealed mediation settlement documents to argue their case.

It’s true, but it’s also sad to see it all over, since all the litigiousness between Zuckerberg and the Olympic rowing brothers has been so dramatic that it was the subject of the almost Oscar-winning movie, “The Social Network.”

But maybe they can go to the Supreme Court! One can dream!

And with their latest loss and all the Google machinating against Facebook, who’s up for a sequel: “Geek Wars: The Empire and the Vii Strike Back.”

In a statement, Colin Stretch, deputy general counsel of Facebook said: “We appreciate the Ninth Circuit’s careful consideration of this case and are pleased the court has ruled in Facebook’s favor.”

Here’s the full ruling:


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