NCsoft has filed a lawsuit against Bluehole Studio and En Masse Entertainment in the US Court District of New York in an attempt to block the sale of TERA in the US.
According to court documents filed on January 9 and obtained by MMOCulture, Bluehole has been accused of stealing software and artwork from NCsoft and using the assets in TERA. The firm developing the project is made up of former NCsoft employees who were part of the Lineage III team.
“These individuals did not leave NCsoft empty-handed or with benign intent,” the complaint states. “To the contrary, they made off with copious amounts of confidential and proprietary NCsoft information, computer software, hardware and artwork relating to Lineage III.
“Their business plan was simple and audacious: create a competing product using the very work they had done while at NCsoft, launch it themselves to great fanfare and acclaim, and, in the process, deal a crippling blow to their former employer.”
In April 2007, Seoul Metropolitan Police arrested seven former employees of NCsoft who were suspected of selling the Lineage III source code to a major Japanese game company. In 2009, the former NCsoft employees were convicted in Korea for stealing trade secrets from the company, and the majority of the convictions were upheld by an appellate court.
However, NCsoft lodged a civil complaint against the individuals and Bluehole in 2010, winning damages and had an injunction placed barring the individuals from using information gleaned. The damages were eventually overturned by an appellate court,and appeals for both the criminal and civil cased are currently pending in South Korea’s high court.
Bluehole launched TERA in Korea last year despite the ongoing legalities, and plans to launch the MMO in Europe and the US in May.