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Company Sues Defectors For Allegedly Taking Inside Secrets To Rival

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Eric Lieberman Deputy Editor
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A social video game service is suing two former employees and its main rival after the workers allegedly took secret data to the other company.

Zynga, which is based in San Francisco, filed the lawsuit Tuesday, according to Ars Technica. The tech company alleges Massimo Maietti and Ehud Barlach, two previous employees, defected to Scopely and illegally gave it confidential information, including game designs and financial data.

“Zynga respects the rights of its employees to resign and seek employment with other companies,” the official legal document reads. “But Zynga cannot tolerate the wholesale theft of some of its most sensitive and commercially valuable data, or a competitor that competes unfairly by not respecting, and even encouraging the breach of, the contractual obligations of Zynga’s current and former employees.”

Maietti apparently worked as a senior level game designer and was in the process of developing “one of Zynga’s most ambitious soon-to-be released games” called “Project Mars.”

After the company conducted “forensic analysis” on Maietti’s Zynga-provided computer, it was discovered Maietti did not follow the rules under his contract. Maietti allegedly uploaded certain folders to an external USB device, and then placed the remaining files on the computer in the trash.

“On July 7, 2016, over 20,000 files and folders were located within the Trash but were subsequently deleted in a failed attempt by Maietti to cover his tracks,” reads the legal complaint.

Barlach is accused of doing the same, but with other sensitive information, reports Ars Technica. Barlach allegedly was in correspondence with a Scopely recruiter named Christina Dunbar discussing who to poach from Zynga next.

“Thanks!! I was saving that for your first day! LOL I would be happy to hear about anyone you think I should be trying to speak with. Obviously I know you have that clause about not taking people so I am always careful. :-)” Dunbar responded, apparently to a text sent by Barlach.

Zynga settled with a former employee in 2013 over a similar issue. This case, though, is believed to be even more extensive. (RELATED: Two Companies Went To Court Over How They Say ‘Thank You’)

Zynga contends that it had “no choice” once again but to resort to legal proceedings in order to recover the stolen data.

The social gaming market is projected to be worth as much as $17.4 billion in 2019, according to a report cited by Casino.org.

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