Zynga is suing one of the many developers who've recently left the company, former studio GM Alan Patmore (CityVille), over alleged theft of trade secrets before he joined rival developer Kixeye.
According to documents filed with the Superior Court in San Francisco last Friday, Zynga alleges that in the days leading up to his resignation, Patmore copied over seven hundred files containing trade secrets and sensitive business data from his company-issued laptop to a Dropbox online storage account, then tried to cover his tracks by deleting the Dropbox program from his computer.
Those files included metrics data, information on historic and future monetization plans, a final game design document for an unreleased Zynga game, over ten unreleased design documents, company revenue information, 14 months worth of confidential internal emails, and more.
Zynga has struggled to hold onto executives in recent months, losing more than a dozen as bad news on its financial status continues to pile up for the struggling developer. A number of employees who've left the company over the years have taken jobs at social game studio Kixeye (War Commander) -- which the developer notes has "publicly expressed animus" toward Zynga in the past.
The company accuses Patmore of keeping the files as part of his plans to join Kixeye, and says 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."
A Kixeye spokesperson commented on the lawsuit to All Things Digital: "Kixeye has nothing to do with the suit. 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."
Patmore had worked at Zynga for 16 months before leaving in August to join Kixeye as Product VP. He has also previously served as Product Development VP at Double Fine and CEO/president at Surreal Software (acquired by Midway in 2004).
Zynga is demanding a jury trial against Patmore for misappropriation of trade secrets and breach of written contract. It's seeking an injunction for the immediate return of its data, a restraining order against Patmore from using that data in any way, compensatory damages, general damages, punitive damages, and attorney's fees.