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Zynga suing former Cityville GM over theft of trade secrets


A former Zynga general manager has allegedly stolen trade secrets, the social games company claims in a new lawsuit. Zynga believes Alan Patmore, who previously worked on Cityville, uploaded a number of company assets to a Dropbox account from his company computer, both on the day before and day of his departure from the company. Said assets included, among other things, information on Zynga's game mechanics, internal assessments of Cityville's performance, monetization plans, company emails and design documents (including the final design document for an as yet unreleased game).

Zynga feels Patmore, who now works for social game company Kixeye, will use the information to directly compete with his former employer. Specifically, Zynga states that the stolen data "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 to compete more effectively with Zynga."

Furthermore, the company claims that, upon leaving the company, Patmore refused to sign a "termination certification," which "merely reaffirmed" his contractual obligations, among them not to take any of the company's "sensitive data."

Zynga is seeking to immediately block both Patmore and Kixeye from accessing the data, as well as the data's immediate return. The company also seeks unspecified general and punitive damages, as well as "restitution and/or disgorgement" of funds by which Patmore and Kixeye have been "unjustly enriched."

Kixeye, for its part, tells All Things Digital that it has "nothing to do with the suit," but that hasn't stopped it from launching a zinger at Zynga. "Unfortunately, this appears to be Zynga's new employee retention strategy," said a spokesperson. "Suing former employees to scare current employees into staying."

Zynga, incidentally, is no stranger to lawsuits regarding trade secrets, having filed (and subsequently settled) a similar lawsuit against Playdom in 2010.

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