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Paul Hastings Secures Favorable Result for Zynga in Nationally Significant Trade Secrets Case

September 16, 2013

San Francisco, CA – Paul Hastings LLP, a leading global law firm, represented Zynga Inc. as lead counsel in a closely watched trade secrets battle that focused employers in Silicon Valley and nationwide on the impact of new technologies like cloud-based storage devices on commercial secrets.

Filed in October 2012, the case of Zynga v. Kixeye et al. captured attention in Silicon Valley and other tech-focused regions, where detecting and remedying trade secret theft is a large concern. Zynga sued Alan Patmore, a former executive and ex-general manager of 'Cityville', after discovering that he secretly utilized online file storage site DropBox to copy hundreds of files, which included Zynga non-public, commercially valuable information such as monetization plans, unreleased game designs, revenue information, and strategies.

Paul Hastings Employee Mobility and Trade Secrets practice group, led by partner Bradford Newman, utilized their specialized computer science and forensic expertise to score a temporary restraining order from the San Francisco Superior Court early in the case prohibiting Patmore from "engaging in any activities related to the planning, design, or development of online game applications that in any way involve the use or disclosure of Zynga's trade secrets or other confidential or proprietary data."

Zynga subsequently added Kixeye, Patmore's new employer, as a defendant. Paul Hastings then defeated Kixeye’s demurrer, which alleged that the tort claim pled against it was preempted under the Uniform Trade Secret Act. The result was that Zynga’s tort claim survived. Next, Paul Hastings successfully defended against Patmore’s claim that Zynga had not properly identified its trade secrets with sufficient particularity such that discovery should be stalled. The Court agreed that Zynga had met its obligation to properly identify its trade secrets. Then Paul Hastings successfully obtained a dismissal of Kixeye’s cross-complaint under California’s Anti-SLAPP statute and secured a Court order requiring Kixeye to pay Zynga $125,000 in attorney’s fees and costs in connect with the filing of the cross complaint.

In early September 2013, the case resolved. While portions of the settlement remain confidential, Paul Hastings helped Zynga secure the following public, written apology from Patmore: “I accept responsibility for making a serious mistake by copying and taking Zynga confidential information when I resigned from Zynga. I understand the consequences of my actions, and I sincerely apologize to Zynga and my former colleagues.” In addition to a written apology, the Firm also obtained permanent injunctions against the former executive and the competitor.

Employee Mobility and Trade Secrets practice group leader Bradford Newman led the Paul Hastings team, which also included associates Esther Cheng and Edward Piper.

Paul Hastings LLP is a leading global law firm with offices in Asia, Europe, and the United States. We provide innovative legal solutions to financial institutions and Fortune 500 companies. Please visit www.paulhastings.com for more information.