Activision lassoes EA and ex-Infinity Ward staff in $400 million lawsuit
Earlier this year, founders of Infinity Ward, Jason West and Vince Zampella left Activision to form a rival studio with EA called Respawn Entertainment, taking 40 other Infinity Ward staffers with them. Activision are now seeking damages for breach of contract to the tune of 400 million bucks. Accusations against the Infinity Ward founders and EA include claims that the publisher flew West and Zampella to secret meetings, and that West and Zampella covertly copied documents and stole trade secrets from Activision.
Activision were already suing West and Zampella for leaving Infinity Ward with two years left on their contract, but have now added EA to the list, saying that "Electronic Arts conspired with two former senior Activision executives, West and Zampella (the "executives") to derail Activision's Call of Duty franchise, disrupt its Infinity Ward development studio, and inflict serious harm on the company."
Activision are alleging that EA head-hunted the Infinity Ward founders using unfair practice, saying that EA used talent agency Creative Artists to fly West and Zampella to secret meetings at the home of EA CEO John Riccitiello as early as 2009. Activision also say that EA “intentionally interfered with contracts, engaged in unfair competition and aided and abetted breaches of fiduciary duty by the executives”.
More remarkable claims suggest that West and Zampella went as far as to "covertly copy certain materials." Activision are also suggesting that "West and Zampella continued to possess Activision confidential information long after they left which makes it likely that West and/or Zampella have misused and/or will continue to misuse valuable Activision intellectual property and trade secrets, including computer code, now that they have left Activision."
The $400 million figure comes from Activision's estimated losses based on the costs required to rebuild the Infinity Ward studio. Here's a video we put together back when West and Zampella left, showing the state of the studio after many of the staff had jumped ship.