clipped from news.wired.com

BOSTON (AP) — The owners of a rival social networking Web site are trying to shut down Facebook.com, charging in a federal lawsuit that Facebook’s founder stole their ideas while they were students at Harvard.

The three founders of ConnectU say Mark Zuckerberg agreed to finish computer code for their site, but repeatedly stalled and eventually created Facebook using their ideas.

The lawsuit’s allegations against Zuckerberg include fraud, copyright infringement and misappropriation of trade secrets. It asks the court to shutter Facebook and give control of the company and its assets to ConnectU’s founders.

Facebook has responded by asking a judge to dismiss the lawsuit. A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Boston.

Facebook started in 2004, a few months before ConnectU went online, and now has 31 million users, compared with about 70,000 users for ConnectU, based in Greenwich, Conn. Last year, Facebook turned down a $1 billion buyout offer from Yahoo Inc.

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Wired reports that the owner of Facebook is being sued for stealing the idea.

One thing of note, Facebook started “a few months before ConnectU went online, and now has 31 milion users, compared with about 70,000 users for ConnectU”. The value of being the first to do something new is more valuable than ever.