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Category — Non-Compete Cases

Activision Settles with Two Former Guitar Hero Executives

Categories: Controller CasesCopyright CasesEmployment Law CasesInjunctionsMisc. Contract CasesNon-Compete CasesSettlementsTrade Secret CasesTrademark CasesUnfair Business Practice Casses

In February, Activision launched a new lawsuit against The Ant Commandos (TAC), Reverb Communications and three former Red Octane executives/employees: former executive producer John Tam, brand manager [name removed on request] and hardware group member Jamie Yang. These former executives founded a new company with TAC – Loadstone Entertainment.

Activision has settled with John Tam and [name removed on request]. The two have consented to a permanent injunction restraining the two from:

  • distributing a demo created by TAM incorporating elements of Guitar Hero II;
  • using or disclosing any Activision trade secrets;
  • taking steps to develop drum, guitar or synthesizer-based games for the next year;
  • “working on” a guitar controller for the XBox 360 version of Guitar Hero II for six months after release; and
  • competing against an undisclosed list of peripheral devices for six months after Activision commercially releases them.

The two were also ordered to return all materials relating to Activision’s proprietary information.

As far as I’m aware, no settlement has thus far been reached with Jamie Yang, Reverb or TAC.

Dale’s Comment [written April 26, 2007]: On a personal note, I was one of the lucky one’s to pick up Guitar Hero II for the Xbox 360 on launch day. The local Best Buy had about 100 of them on the morning of the launch. As I understand it, they sold out within hours and, to the date of this writing (owing partially to extreme demand and problems with some versions of the initially released guitar peripheral), I still can’t find them for sale anywhere in Toronto. I would like to purchase a second guitar peripheral. I’m having a blast with this game. As one of the commentators in a recent Joystiq Podcast pointed out, my fingers ache and want to stop playing long before the rest of me does! :)

Sources: GameSpot | Gamasutra | GameIndustry.biz | 1Up.com | CVG | Kotaku

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Activision Sues Ant Commandos and Former Guitar Hero Executives

Categories: Controller CasesCopyright CasesEmployment Law CasesMisc. Contract CasesNon-Compete CasesTrade Secret CasesTrademark CasesUnfair Business Practice Casses

In a new Guitar Hero related dispute, Activision (Guitar Hero publisher RedOctane’s parent company), has filed a fresh lawsuit against guitar peripheral maker The Ant Commando (TAC), Red Octane’s PR firm Reverb Communications and three former Red Octane executives/employees: former executive producer John Tam, brand manager [name removed on request] and hardware group member Jamie Yang. The former executives founded a new company with TAC – Loadstone Entertainment.

The complaint alleges:

“copyright infringement, trademark infringement, misappropriating trade secrets and confidential information, breach of contract, interference with contractual relations, and more. “

GameSpot is reporting that Activision has already obtained a temporary restraining order against the defendants restraining them from:

  • distributing a demo created by TAM incorporating elements of Guitar Hero II;
  • using or disclosing any Activision trade secrets, including: music licensing contract terms, in-game advertising, sales figures, marketing plans, product designs, and possible future songs and artists to be featured;
  • developing a guitar controller for the XBox 360 version of Guitar Hero II for three months after release;
  • soliciting Activision employees, partners or Asia-based manufacturing partners; and
  • taking any steps to develop, market, manufacture, sell, or distribute any guitar or drum based video games.

As recently as December 27, 2006, Activision and Red Octane had settled a different dispute with TAC concerning the sale of unlicensed guitar peripherals. See here for details.

Sources: Gamasutra | GameSpot | Kotaku

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Massive Black Sues Ex-Employees for Pilfering Development Business, Fraud, Etc.

Categories: "Inside Baseball"Criminal ProsecutionsEmployment Law CasesMisc. Contract CasesNon-Compete CasesUnfair Business Practice Casses

Massive Black is suing its former employees James Xi Zhang and Jenny Chen for interference with contractual relations, fraud, unlawful access to computer network, trespass, breach of contract and interference with prospective business advantage. Massive, a game-art and design subcontractor for games such as Killzone 2, Helgate: Longdon and Battlefield 2142, alleges, among other things, that Zhang and Chen, while still employed by Massive Black, competitively bid on projects from Massive’s customer, without Massive’s knowledge, won the contract and used Massive’s resources (equipment and development personnel – while still on Massive’s payroll) to work on the pilfered projects. Massive also alleges that up to $150,000 was siphoned out of the company using inflated expense reporting.
 
Sources: 1Up.com  |  Discussed in the April 14, 2006 “1Up Yours” Podcast (Time Index 48:15-52:15)  |  Gamasutra

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More Details in MGE-SCI Dispute – MGE Asserts Contractual Ownership of Source Codes

Categories: Non-Compete CasesPublisher/Developer Cases

In a recent statement MGE alleges that its signed development agreement with SCI clearly stipulates that it retains ownership of the source codes. MGE also alleges that SCi is in breach of a non solicit clause in their agreement by obtaining, presumably, confidential information from former MGE employees.

Source: Gamasutra

Dale’s Comment: This contract seems odd. SCI claims it has a contractual right to take over development if dissatisfied with MGE’s development work. At the same time MGE states the contract gives it ownership rights in the source codes. These two statements are at odds with each other. Either the contract was very poorly drafted or one of the two parties fundamentally misunderstands it. If anyone has access to the disputed contract (undoubtedly to be an exhibit at any trial), or the disputed provisions, I would appreciate it if you would provide me with a copy so that I can post here.

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Ubisoft Wins Non-Compete Order Against Tremblay/Vivendi L.A.

Categories: Canadian DevelopersEmployment Law CasesNon-Compete Cases

Former Ubisoft COO Martin Tremblay will have to wait until June 7, 2006 before joining Vivendi after a Quebec court extended a temporary injunction. Judge Helene Langlois dismissed Tremblay’s claims that he was constructively dismissed from Ubisoft.

Sources: Gamasutra | GameIndustry.biz | GameDaily.biz | Next Generation | Canada News Wire | Canoe Money(CP)

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Ubisoft Montreal Enjoins its Former President, Martin Tremblay, from Joining Vivendi L.A.

Categories: Canadian DevelopersEmployment Law CasesNon-Compete Cases

In seeking to enforce a non-compete clause against its former President and COO, Martin Tremblay, Ubisoft Montreal obtained a provisional injunction from the Quebec Superior Court enjoining Tremblay from becoming President of Vivendi Universal Games’ Worldwide Studios in LA.. The interim interlocutory injunction is valid until 5:00 PM on Tuesday May 9, when Ubisoft will be seeking a safeguard order. The Court has ordered Tremblay to:

“abstain and cease immediately, directly or indirectly, competing with applicant Ubisoft…” and “…cease immediately working, directly or indirectly, within the territories of Canada, the United States and Mexico, for his own behalf or on behalf of any third party, in any business which manufactures or commercializes video products that may compete with products sold, manufactured or developed by applicant Ubisoft”.


Dale’s Comment: It is particularly ironic that Tremblay was the driving force behind Ubisoft’s and EA Canada’s recent non-compete scuffles. For example, in this open letter, EA Canada’s General Manager, Alain Tascan, urges Tremblay to cease requiring that Ubisoft staff sign non-compete agreements as condition of employment. It appears Tremblay is caught by the same type of non-compete agreement that, until recently, he was vigorously enforcing against others.

Sources: Gamasutra | GameDaily.biz | Next Generation | GameSpot

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Non-Disclosures & Non-Competes: To Sign Or Not To Sign?

Categories: Featured ArticlesIndustry ContractsNon-Compete CasesStartup Game Developer IssuesTrade Secret Cases

Gamasutra Feature: Marc Mencher advises video-game industry job seekers to carefully consider and read before signing an NDA or non-compete agreement upon taking that new job.

Source: Gamasutra

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Electronic Arts, Ubisoft Clash in Canada On Ubi’s Standard Employment Agreement Non-Compete Clause

Categories: Canadian DevelopersEmployment Law CasesNon-Compete Cases

Text of Open Letter from EA to Ubisoft
A long-running conflict between the Montreal studios of major publishers Electronic Arts and Ubisoft over non-compete clauses for departing Ubisoft game development employees has again flared to life, following the hiring of an unnamed former Ubisoft employee to work at EA’s Montreal studio.

Sources: Gamasutra | Gamespot | Next Generation | GameDaily | GameIndustry.biz

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