Machine Zone files lawsuit after out-of-control banter at Casual Connect

Game of War dev suing Kabam over trade secrets

The developer behind mobile hit Game of War is taking Kabam to court after it was discovered the latter had seemingly gained access to the studio’s secrets.

Machine Zone has filed a lawsuit accusing the mobile publisher of “misappropriation of trade secrets”, according to VentureBeat, referring specifically to the developer’s plans to pitch to potential investors in the hopes of raising $500m in funding.

The altercation began at the recent Casual Connect conference during a conversation between Machine Zone’s CEO Gabe Leydon and Kabam’s director of corporate development Daniel Wiggins.

Wiggins referred to facts about Machine Zone, such as its profit and revenue figures, where were in a confidential pitch document Machine Zone had circulated earlier in the year. Outraged that Wiggins had access to this information, Leydon threatened to sue Kabam.

In the lawsuit filed with the San Francisco Superior Court, Machine Zone said it “does not know how Kabam obtained the document, but brings this lawsuit because it is of paramount importance that Kabam ceases using it immediately. Machine Zone is a private company operating in a highly competitive, fast-moving industry. Disclosure of that document to Kabam has already caused it harm and Machine Zone is now at risk of suffering further, irreparable harm if Kabam is permitted to continue to possess this information.”

Leydon added that the facts Wiggins made reference to would only be known to him if he had read that document, and that it also included information regarding “new technology that Machine Zone is developing, plans for future mobile games including screenshots that reveal the art work and themes of the game, Machine Zone’s business plan and analysis of its unique position in the market”.

Kabam, however, describes the original conversation as banter, with Wiggins claiming he made up these references in order to make a point in an argument.

The firm’s SVP of corporate communications Steve Swasey told GamesBeat: “This was banter between a mid-level Kabam employee and the CEO of a competitor, at a cocktail party, glasses of wine in hand. They were sparring, with a little braggadocio, a little machismo, in a very immature way. Our employee said something he shouldn’t have said. It’s embarrassing. The fact is there is no document. There is nothing to this. The fact this has gone this far is ludicrous. It’s preposterous.”

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