Facebook has won the right to look at some but not all of the emails it claims Paul Ceglia was hiding as part of his suit seeking a stake in the social networking giant.
Noticeably absent from the emails Facebook will get a look at are emails between Ceglia and the law firm representing Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, the Harvard University twins who received a reported $65 million settlement over their contention that Facebook was their idea.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Leslie G. Foschio ruled that Ceglia's communication with lawyer David M. Grable of Quinn Emanuel, the Winklevoss' New York City firm, is covered by lawyer-client privilege and, therefore, confidential.
"Although Dave Grable and Quinn Emanuel have never appeared as counsel of record in this action, communications between plaintiff and Dave Grable made while plaintiff was considering whether to retain Dave Grable and Quinn Emanuel are privileged," the judge ruled.
Foschio did grant Facebook permission to look at other Ceglia emails. The judge gave Ceglia, a Wellsville native, 10 days to produce the emails.
In giving Facebook limited access to the disputed emails, Foschio addressed its claim that Ceglia was concealing the email accounts. They include an account named "getzuck," a possible reference to Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg.
Lawyers on both sides of the dispute declined to comment.
Foschio's ruling is the latest development in a 2-year-old case rooted in Ceglia's claims that he signed a contract with Zuckerberg in 2003 when Facebook was in the early stages of development.
Zuckerberg admits that he signed a contract with Ceglia while he was a student at Harvard but that it had nothing to do with Facebook.
The judge's ruling also addresses Facebook's request for more information on Ceglia's relationship with the Winklevoss' former lawyers.
The twins, who are central characters in the movie "The Social Network," received $65 million as part of an out-of-court settlement in 2008.
Shortly after that, the Winklevoss' relationship with Quinn Emanuel went bad and the twins refused to pay the firm. The firm eventually won $13 million in fees.