This week Zynga filed a lawsuit against former employees Massimo Maietti and Ehud Barlach, as well as their new employer, alleging that the pair pilfered valuable trade secrets when they quit earlier this year to join Zynga competitor Scopely.
Trade secrets, in this case, include USB drives containing ~14,000 files detailing a variety of Zynga projects, including one codenamed "Project Mars" that Zynga claims has been in development for 18 months. As Ars Technica points out, this case is especially intriguing because Zynga seems to believe Scopely has been actively poaching its game developer talent for some time.
"As soon as Zynga realized that its key talent was being solicited and hired by Scopely with increasing frequency, Zynga commissioned a forensic examination of the departed employees’ computers, going back to Maietti’s resignation months earlier," reads an excerpt of the lawsuit. "Then and only then did Zynga begin to learn the extent of Defendants’ wrongdoing. To protect its most valuable intellectual property and to put a stop to Defendants’ wrongful course of conduct, Zynga immediately filed this lawsuit."
In addition to misappropriation of trade secrets, Zynga is alleging that the two ex-employees violated their contracts with Zynga by helping Scopely poach other Zynga employees.
"Forensic examination of Barlach's Zynga-issued computer revealed that when Barlach accepted Scopely's offer of employment, he also offered to help Scopely raid Zynga's workforce," alleges Zynga. "Knowing about Barlach's obligation to Zynga, Scopely should have responded that it had no interest in Barlach violating his commitments."
Zynga alleges Scopely's representative did not do so, and suggests the company sought to hire multiple other Zynga personnel away with full knowledge that it was interfering with their contractual obligations to Zynga.
Now the house that Farmville built is calling for a trial by jury to seek damages and other relief from Barlach, Maietti and Scopely. You can read Zynga's full legal complaint below.