Apparently, thefacebook.com creator d'bowed the idea from some people he was working with (who made a service called ConnectU):
(from ConnectU's short history)
Over the course of development, we've had our ups and downs. We've cycled through several programmers, even one who stole our ideas to create a competing site, without informing us of his intentions.
(from the first news link posted on facebook's press listings)
[Mark Zuckerberg], who acknowledges that he worked briefly on the competitors' site before launching his own, denies the allegations. His attorneys filed counterclaims that ConnectU's founders, three recent Harvard graduates, had defamed Zuckerberg and hurt his business.
Okay, now that's just stupid (or really, really smart). First, he rips these guys off. Then, he makes a site that is more popular than theirs. Now, he answers the litigation with counterclaims that they hurt his business.
C'mon. I never hear any say "hey, you hear about ConnectU"? Probably cuz it's too dumb of a name- you can pronounce it like [co-neck-tu] instead of [co-neckt-you]. No, it's people always saying "this guy on facebook wanted to date me" or "I got your message on facebook" or "I'm a facebook master!". The site has grown to be a behemoth, but I will admit it has its useful moments. Mostly for the part where people from 10 years ago contact me and tell me they're going to be a pilot. Yeah, right.