Zynga Inc. has settled its trade secret misappropriation case against a former general manager. The gaming company had accused Alan Patmore of committing “wholesale theft” of its trade secrets and sharing them with rival Kixeye.

According to court documents, Patmore transferred over 700 company documents to a personal Dropbox account prior to ending his employment. The files included monetization plans, unreleased game designs, and revenue information and strategies. Zynga further alleged that Patmore’s new employer encouraged the theft.

While the financial terms of the settlement were not disclosed, Patmore did acknowledge his misdeeds. “I accept responsibility for making a serious mistake by copying and taking Zynga confidential information when I resigned from Zynga,” said Patmore in a statement. “I understand the consequences of my actions, and I sincerely apologize to Zynga and my former colleagues.”

Unfortunately, these cases are increasingly common, particularly in competitive industries like software and gaming. In addition, trade secret theft is often an inside job. A recent Symantec survey found that half of employees who left or lost their jobs in the last 12 months walked out the door with confidential business data. Moreover, 40 percent plan to use the information in their new endeavors.

Even more concerning, most employees do not believe that using competitive data taken from a previous employer is wrong. In fact, fifty-six percent of employees do not believe it is a crime to use a competitor’s trade secret information.

With this in mind, it is imperative to have policies in place to deter trade secret theft, including non-disclosure agreements and employee training about how to manage confidential information.

How Can I Help?

If you, or someone you know, need any help with Intellectual Property issues, from filing a patent, trademark or copyright, or just need advice regarding how best to protect your inventions, ideas or your brand, please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation at nvantreeck@usip.com or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +