The theft of trade secrets, like many internet crimes, is one that is easily committed with just a moment’s poor judgment. A few clicks, and the files move from the company database to one’s own computer. In some cases, the files may be taken legally during the course of one’s normal work. If that data is saved and used after one leaves the company, however, an employee can end up in a great deal of trouble.
This is apparently the case for a former employee of the social gaming giant Zynga Games. Zynga is famous for a number of hit titles, such as “Farmville,” “Chefville,” and “Zynga Poker.” In 2012, the general manager of a fourth hit title, “Cityville,” was poached by Kixeye, a competing social gaming company.
A month later, Zynga revealed that the departing manager had uploaded 760 files from his work computer onto Dropbox before he left the company. Those files could then be downloaded onto a personal computer at any time. Zynga said the files contained sensitive information about future products, pricing models and employee compensation.
Zynga filed a lawsuit against its former employee and his new company. This month, the lawsuit was dropped in an out-of-court settlement between Zynga, Kixeye and the employee. The terms of the settlement were confidential, but the employee did issue a public apology to Zynga and his former coworkers.
It’s sometimes difficult to know what one can and cannot bring from one employer to another, and failure to follow the rules can lead to a conviction for computer crimes. Employees who are concerned about such issues may wish to speak to a legal expert before switching jobs, to ensure that they have the most current information regarding the theft of trade secrets.
Source: TechCrunch, “Zynga Settles With Former Employee Over Allegations of Theft of Trade Secrets” Kim-Mai Cutler, Sep. 11, 2013