Zynga suing former studio GM over trade secret theft

By Brenna Hillier, Tuesday, 16 October 2012 02:57 GMT

Zynga has accused outgoing studio manager Alan Patmore of theft of trade secrets.

As reported by Gamasutra, which has posted the original documents, Zynga has filed a suit alleging Patmore took copies of more than 700 files of trade secrets and sensitive business data.

The files Patmore is accused of taking included metrics data; monetization strategies; a final game design document for an unreleased Zynga game; more than ten other unreleased design documents; company revenue information; and 14 months of internal emails.

Zynga believes the harvested files “could be used to improve a competitor’s internal understanding and know-how of core game mechanics and monetization techniques, its execution, and ultimately its market standing to compete more effectively with Zynga”.

Patmore, a 16 month veteran of Zynga, is just one of a number of high-profile exits in recent months; several of his contemporaries have joined the same company, Kixeye. The social games developer has been quite open in its rivalry with Zynga, but Kixeye said it has nothing to do with the matter.

“Unfortunately, this appears to be Zynga’s new employee retention strategy: Suing former employees to scare current employees into staying. They’ve clearly exhausted other options in their employee retention playbook,” a representative told All Things Digital.

Patmore is said to have copied the files from a Zynga-owned laptop to his Dropbox account, and then uninstalled Dropbox; if true, this apparently didn’t stop Zynga’s IT hounds from discovering the supposed leak.

Zynga’s suit calls for a jury trial for misappropriation of trade secrets and breach of written contract; an injunction for the immediate return of its data; a restraining order against Patmore from using that data in any way; compensatory damages, general damages; punitive damages and attorney’s fees.

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