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Judge denies Zynga's motion to dismiss case over alleged FarmVille code theft

MyFarm developer SocialApps' lawsuit against Zynga over alleged source code theft with FarmVille is headed to court, after a federal judge denied Zynga's motion to dismiss the case.
MyFarm developer SocialApps' lawsuit against Zynga over alleged source code theft with FarmVille is headed to court, after a federal judge denied Zynga's motion to dismiss the case. SocialApps filed the suit last June, accusing Zynga of using MyFarm's source code and other information to create Facebook hit FarmVille, without the consent of the California-based studio and without compensation. It said Zynga may have used the code to develop other popular titles like FrontierVille and CityVille. According to SocialApps, Zynga approached the company about acquiring the intellectual property rights and source code for MyFarm several months after the game's November 2008 release, and right before it put out FarmVille in June 2009. The two entered an agreement to share information about MyFarm at the time for "due diligence" purposes. SocialApps claims FarmVille was created with code from MyFarm, and that Zynga never provided credit or compensation for the developer. It's now seeking a permanent injunction, statutory and punitive damages, attorney's fees, and a share of the profits Zynga made from FarmVille. Zynga responded by filing a motion to dismiss SocialApps' claims, which included violation of the California Uniform Trade Secrets Act (CUTSA), breach of implied contract, breach of confidence, and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. While U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers partially granted the motion to dismiss SocialApps' CUTSA violation claim and struck out allegations regarding misappropriation of MyFarm's images and features (SocialApps can amend that portion), it denied all of Zynga's other motions to dismiss the lawsuit. "The allegations here are sufficient to allege conduct beyond a mere breach of the terms of the agreement, which would support a claim for tort damages," said Rogers in her decision issued last week [PDF link]. Law firm Girardi Keese's Graham LippSmith, counsel for SocialApps, said the decision to partially dismiss the CUTSA violation claim did not affect his client's lawsuit, and that the company will file an amended complaint, according to AM Law Litigation Daily. He also remarked that damages will be "astronomical," considering FarmVille's massive commercial success. The decision comes a couple of months after Zynga settled its own lawsuit against Brazilian developer Vostu over the alleged copying of its games. As part of the settlement, Vostu agreed to make changes to its games and make a monetary payment to Zynga.

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