Zynga suing ex-CityVille GM

Company says outgoing dev stole data, Kixeye calls suit "employee retention strategy"

By Brendan Sinclair.Published Monday 15th October 2012, 6:59pm GMT

Zynga is suing the former general manager of its CityVille game, alleging the developer took confidential information with him when he resigned in August to work for competing social game developer Kixeye.

As reported by VentureBeat, the social gaming giant filed its suit against Alan Patmore in San Francisco late last week. The complaint alleges that on the day before Patmore resigned from Zynga, he copied 760 files into a folder labeled "Zynga" on his work computer's desktop. The suit says he then copied that folder onto a personal Dropbox cloud storage account, and in an unsuccessful attempt to cover his tracks, uninstalled the Dropbox program from this computer.

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The files in question detailed a wealth of proprietary data on Zynga's business, according to the company, including optimization methods, monetization plans, design documents for unreleased games, information on Zynga game revenues, and employee compensation figures. During Patmore's exit interview, he also allegedly refused to sign a document certifying that he would not be retaining or misusing any of Zynga's sensitive business data.

Zynga said the information taken could be used to benefit Kixeye, which the suit says ranks 34th in the industry in terms of monthly users, and does not have a top 10 game. To further establish the harm done to Zynga, the complaint takes additional shots at Patmore's new employer, adding, "Kixeye has failed to achieve success in the online free-to-play gaming market because it lacks Zynga's know-how."

The suit is accusing Patmore of misappropriation of trade secrets and breach of the confidentiality contract he signed upon being hired by Zynga.

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A Kixeye representative told GamesIndustry International it has nothing to do with the suit, but added,"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."

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