The War Commander studio has responded to Zynga's trade secrets lawsuit with a blistering "cross-complaint."
The legal dust-up between Kixeye and Zynga began in October when Zynga filed suit against the former general manager of its popular CityVille, who left the company in August to take a position at Kixeye. Zynga claimed that Alan Patmore stole some of its "most valuable and confidential information" about game development before he left, which he presumably turned over to his new bosses, and also questioned Kixeye's "relevance in the online social gaming community" in the process.
That elicited some harsh words from Kixeye CEO Will Harbin, but now the company has filed a complaint of its own against Zynga and if anything, it's even more fire-breathing. "While Kixeye prides itself on producing original, creative works, Zynga is notorious for copying and cloning the games of its competition, often trampling on those competitors' intellectual property rights in the process," the suit says. "To the extent that Zynga has any kind of 'playbook,' there is only one play inside and it is no secret - relentless and shameless copying of its competitors' games."
The Kixeye complaint claims that Zynga is pressing ahead with its lawsuit despite Patmore's cooperation and a lack of forensic evidence that any trade secrets were shared in order to "send a message" to other employees who might be thinking about jumping ship, and also to "gain access to Kixeye's own confidential, valuable information and trade secrets and bog Kixeye down in the wasted time and expense of litigation while Zynga tries to enter the midcore market."
"Their illustrious history of using their legal department to exploit and slander competitors that they can't otherwise out-perform is well documented. We will not stand for it," Harbin said in a statement. "We will fight to our last breath to keep this predatory company from accessing our confidential information and best practices. We intend to defend ourselves from Zynga's legal bullying for as long as it takes to reveal the truth -- that Kixeye played no part in this. As we have stated previously, we have zero interest in Zynga's IP or 'trade secrets.' Our games are categorically different from theirs in almost every way. Claiming that their failed business practices could inform ours further establishes their complete lack of understanding of the gaming business."
Kixeye is seeking a ruling against Zynga prohibiting its use of litigation to interfere with its business relations, including the right to recruit Zynga employees, and also restitution, legal fees and "such other and further relief as the Court may deem just and proper." A copy of the full complaint in PDF format is available here.