Kixeye, a San Francisco-based startup that’s challenging Zynga in online games, has admitted that one of its employees, Alan Patmore, copied files when he left Zynga and may have used two of them in his new job.Patmore was the general manager of CityVille, one of Zynga’s more successful social games.
But Kixeye maintains that the documents in question—a salary spreadsheet and a template for pitching a new game—don’t constitute trade secrets.
Kixeye sent us this statement from CEO Will Harbin:
Today we filed a Cross-Complaint against Zynga in the Superior Court of California. We believe Zynga is manipulating the legal process and fabricating claims against KIXEYE to access OUR trade secrets. Their illustrious history of using their legal department to exploit and slander competitors that they can’t otherwise out-perform is well documented. We will not stand for it. This matter was shameful enough when it was focused on bleeding one of their former employees. When they broadened this frivolous claim to include KIXEYE, they showed their hand. We will fight to our last breath to keep this predatory company from accessing our confidential information and best practices. We intend to defend ourselves from Zynga’s legal bullying for as long as it takes to reveal the truth—that KIXEYE played no part in this. As we have stated previously, we have ZERO interest in Zynga’s IP or “trade secrets.” Our games are categorically different from theirs in almost every way. Claiming that their failed business practices could inform ours further establishes their complete lack of understanding of the gaming business.”
In the legal filing where it admits Alan Patmore brought Zynga documents with him to his new Kixeye job, Kixeye says Zynga is only suing in order to scare its own employees into staying at the company.
Kixeye also uses the opportunity of the filing to insult Zynga’s games:
Comparing Kixeye’s games to Zynga’s games is like comparing a Ducati motorcycle to a minivan. Both are motorised vehicles, but Ducati motorcycles, like Kixeye’s midcore games, appeal to a small but passionate group of users who are focused on quality and performance. Zynga is more concerned with cranking out games that will fit the whole family without offending anyone.
This isn’t the first time Kixeye has lampooned Zynga. But it’s not clear how Kixeye’s zany approach will play out in a courtroom.
Here’s Kixeye’s response and cross-complaint:
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