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Publicly Visible “Images” and “Features” of Gaming Applications Not Trade Secret, Even If Source Code Kept Confidential

In Public Availability on February 17, 2012 at 6:20 am
MyFarm

MyFarm (Photo credit: Benjamin Pender)

In a slip opinion, District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers of the Northern District of California struck portions of trade secret allegations regarding certain gaming applications where those “images” and “features” were visible to the public. SocialApps, LLC v. Zynga, Inc., No. 4:11 CV 04910 YGR, 2012 WL 381216 (N.D. Cal. Feb. 6, 2012) (slip op.).

Background

Plaintiff SocialApps LLC (“SA”) sued Defendant Zynga Inc. (“Zynga”) for violation of the California Uniform Trade Secrets Act (“CUTSA”), copyright, and various other contract-based common law claims.  Id. Zynga moved to dismiss, inter alia, the CUTSA claim.  Id. Plaintiff alleged that it developed the first farming social network game to be accessed through Facebook.  Id.  The game was publicly released on Facebook in November 2008 as “myFarm.”  Id.  In May 2009, Zynga approached SA about acquiring the intellectual property rights and other information about myFarm, and the parties entered into a letter agreement on May 19, 2009.  Id.

Plaintiff alleges that Zynga violated the express terms of the agreement, as well as the implied understandings the parties had reached in connection with the agreement, by making use of the myFarm confidential source code, processes, and other information revealed pursuant to the letter agreement. Id. SA goes on to allege that Zynga thereafter used the confidential source code and other information it acquired from SA to create its own game, “FarmVille,” without SA’s permission and without compensating SA. Id.

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