If you haven’t heard of ConnectU, you’re not alone: The college social-networking site has just 70,000 users, a drop in the bucket compared to the 31 million people now registered with Facebook.
But ConnectU — which, like Facebook, was created in 2004 by students at Harvard University — says it should have had first crack at those millions and millions of patrons. The site’s three founders charge in a federal lawsuit that Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s co-creator and CEO, ripped off their idea.
ConnectU’s first lawsuit, filed in 2004, was dismissed earlier this year on a technicality. But the social network’s creators quickly refiled. The new suit — which will be heard Aug. 1 in a U.S. District Court in Boston — asks that ConnectU be given control of Facebook along with all of the site’s assets, according to the Associated Press.
ConnectU’s creators say they hired Mr. Zuckerberg to help write software for their site, only to see him take their idea and start a competing service. Facebook eventually made its debut four months before ConnectU, and the lawsuit claims that head start proved to be the difference between a wildly successful company and a struggling one.
Lawyers for Facebook said in court filings that the ConnectU creators are leveling “broad-brush” allegations without compelling evidence. And Facebook officials have argued that the two social-networking sites have substantially different interfaces. —Brock Read