What if the Winklevii had never heard of Zuckerberg?

This morning’s Observer column.

If the exchanges in the courtroom are anything to go by, the Winklevii face an uphill task. One of the judges observed, for example, that the twins were sophisticated enough to understand the deal they had settled for. “The founders are pretty smart people themselves,” he observed. “They also had five lawyers from two firms sitting there with them. The twins also have a father from Wharton school, who is very bright. It wasn’t like an individual without help. If you have all of those people there to advise you, isn’t it a little difficult to say this is one of those things in which they were taken advantage of?” The twins' lawyer, Jerome Falk, appeared to concur with this. “I agree,” he said, “that my clients were not behind the barn door when brains were passed out.”

So my guess is that the Winklevii will have to be content with their 2008 settlement. But their case raises an intriguing question: what would have happened if they had never heard of Zuckerberg?