Zynga settles with employee over alleged theft of game secrets

Zynga said it had settled a lawsuit alleging theft of trade secrets by a former employee, with the employee also issuing an apology.

The games company filed a complaint in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of San Francisco, in October last year, alleging that Alan Patmore, formerly general manager for its CityVille game, misappropriated trade secrets from Zynga before joining competitor Kixeye.

Before his departure from Zynga, Patmore is said to have copied over 760 Zynga files into a folder on his computer that he later transferred to a folder on his personal Dropbox cloud storage account, according to Zynga’s complaint.

The data included, among other things, more than ten unreleased game design documents, information on the proprietary methods Zynga uses to identify which games and game mechanics will be successful, and an internal assessment of the relative success of new game features introduced over the last quarter by CityVille, according to the complaint.

The data Patmore took from Zynga “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,” Zynga said in its complaint.

“I accept responsibility for making a serious mistake by copying and taking Zynga confidential information when I resigned from Zynga,” said Patmore in a statement provided by Zynga on Wednesday. “I understand the consequences of my actions and I sincerely apologize to Zynga and my former colleagues,” the statement continued.

Zynga and Kixeye also reached a “mutually agreeable settlement” of their litigation involving Patmore in the court. The lawyers for Patmore could not be immediately contacted. The court has meanwhile entered a request for dismissal of the case by Zynga, after receiving a notice from Zynga of unconditional settlement.

The commercial terms of the settlement were not disclosed. Zynga had asked the court for damages and injunctive relief, preventing Patmore and others from retaining, accessing and disclosing any of its data.

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