Dungeon Defenders studio Trendy Entertainment has filed a lawsuit against Studio Wildcard claiming its former creative director Jeremy Stieglitz blatantly ignored a non-compete clause by ‘secretly’ joining the Ark: Survival Evolved developer.
In a report posted on Kotaku, Trendy claims when Stieglitz left the company in 2014 he signed a clause stating he would not work for a competing studio for one year. He was also not to solicit employees from Trendy, but the studio accuses him of doing it anyway.
The lawsuit claims Stieglitz breached the contract by immediately starting work in secret on the popular Early Access title. The company feel Ark directly competes with Dungeon Defenders both commercially and due to staffing former development employees.
A statement in the filing claims Ark has had a “devastating impact on Trendy’s business,” and further comments call out Stieglitz’s wife, Susan Stieglitz, who is co-founder of Studio Wildcard.
Trendy alleges Susan Stieglitz used her maiden name Browning when registering the company in order to hide her connection. The claim stems from the fact she registered her bakery business in Florida with her married name.
Studio Wildcard has issued a motion to have the case dismissed, stating the only role Jeremy Stieglitz has played in development is that of a consultant. A statement from the studio likened Trendy’s claims to nothing more than “a salacious tabloid story” with disparaging allegations instead of “ultimate facts allegedly showing Trendy’s entitlement to relief.”
The full report on Kotaku goes into detail on Trendy’s claims, Wildcard’s response to allegations, and chronicles issues which arose between Trendy and Stieglitz while he was employed at the studio.