'Farmville' Creator Zynga Settles Suit Over Trade Secret Thefts

By Jason Beahm on November 30, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Can't we all just play nice?

Zynga, the maker of the popular Facebook game "FarmVille," and Playdom just settled their heated lawsuit over trade secret theft allegations. Last year, Zynga sued Playdom, alleging that four former Zynga employees stole trade secrets and then joined Playdom. The four employees were Raymond Holmes, David Rohrl, Martha Sapeta and Scott Siegel. Playdom is the maker of "Mobsters" and "Sorority Life." Playdom was acquired by Disney in July for $563 million.

Holmes was sentenced to 10 days in jail and a $4,000 fine for destroying and withholding evidence relating to the case.

The terms of the settlement were not released. The two companies released a statement saying only that they had come to a "confidential resolution of their litigation." According to Zynga general counsel Reggie Davis "The settlement reflects the very serious nature of the conduct involved, as reflected by the preliminary injunction, restraining orders and contempt order issued by the Santa Clara Superior Court."

According to the lawsuit, the former employees took sensitive documents with them, including a document called the "Zynga Playbook." The playbook contained information about how Zynga creates games, stays competitive, and also included user contact lists. Zynga said that the playbook was the equivalent of the company's "secret sauce" and its contents as "invaluable to a competitor like Playdom."

Playdom admitted that Zynga documents were provided to the company by Chris Hinton, a former Zynga employee. Hinton was not named in the lawsuit. In addition, Playdom admitted that the documents provided by Hinton were used to compete against Zynga.

So, at least for now, this particular battle is over. But when it comes to intellectual property matters, the war never ends.

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