It seems especially fitting that this case is in news now, given that Zuckerberg is The Next Bill Gates (spoiled, brilliant, arrogant, and whiter than the inside of an Oreo). Because Billy G. was not a guy to let a multi-billion-dollar franchise slip out of his hands just because someone else had the idea first. Remember when Microsoft got sued by Apple for "stealing" the Macintosh graphical user interface? It took five years for that case to settle. Of course, the Mac owed more than a bit of its technological inspiration to the Xerox Alto. Likewise, Borland was sued by Lotus for "stealing" the 123 interface for its Quattro spreadsheet, despite the fact that Lotus 123 owed much of its look and feel to VisiCalc.
Fact is, ideas are stolen every day, and it's almost never the Joes or Janes with the original concept who end up cashing in. It's the execution of the idea that counts. And despite a few stumbles -- like violating its users' privacy -- Facebook has been executed rather brilliantly.
If a judge or jury decide ConnectU can back out of its agreement (or was fraudulently induced to settle) and Zucky doesn't own the code he wrote, that will make the ConnectU folks much richer, but it's unlikely to do much harm to Facebook. There are simply too many friends to be annoyed and too many sheep to be thrown.
Got any brilliant ideas? Post them below or email me: cringe (at) infoworld (dot) com. If any of them make a billion dollars I'll be sure to send a few bucks your way.... maybe.