Epic is suing a former Fortnite tester for leaking season 4 secrets in April

It's common practice for people involved in the development of new products—say, for instance, videogames—to sign non-disclosure agreements, legally-binding promises to keep everything hush-hush. And if you don't think they're taken seriously, consider the case of Thomas Hannah, a former Fortnite tester who Epic has sued for allegedly leaking its plans for the game's fourth season before it went live. 

The lawsuit (via IGN), filed in May, says Hannah joined the studio in December 2017 and resigned on April 4, 2018. During his time there, he took part in secure livestreamed meetings during which the upcoming fourth season was discussed. On April 24, three weeks after Hannah resigned, someone using the name "internetadam" posted a since-deleted "SPOILERS for Season 4 Battle Pass & Meteor" on Reddit. This was not Hannah, however, but Adam DiMarco, who was sharing the information allegedly provided to him by Hannah.   

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That would be a violation of the NDA, which states that the information Hannah allegedly shared "derives independent economic value from not being readily known to or as ascertainable by proper means by others who can obtain economic value from its disclosure or use."

"As a result of Defendant's wrongful acts, Epic has suffered and is continuing to suffer irreparable injury," the suit claims. "Epic cannot be adequately compensated for these injuries by monetary awards alone, and has no adequate remedy at law for Defendant's misappropriation of Epic's trade secrets."    

In a response filed on June 21, Hannah acknowledged that he worked on Fortnite but not Fortnite Battle Royale, "which is different," and that he signed an NDA. But he only "admitted in part" to Epic's claims, saying that DiMarco "pumped Defendant with a series of questions and guesses regarding where the meteor would hit," and then ran with it on his own. 

"Based on Defendant's initial response that it wouldn't be hitting a place one would expect and, after further questions from DiMarco, that it wouldn't be Tilted Towers, DiMarco then gathered on his own and guessed if it would be Dusty Depot, to which Defendant confirmed yes," the defense states. "DiMarco then unilaterally published the information he had deduced on his own from Defendant's initial comments... This publication/posting was made by DiMarco without any agreement or instruction from the Defendant whatsoever." 

Epic is seeking an injunction forbidding Hannah from leaking further information (which seems unlikely to happen anyway, since he's been out of the studio since before season 4 went live), and even though it "cannot be adequately compensated" by money it wants some of that too: The lawsuit requests a sum "reflecting the maximum amount of damages" permitted under North Carolina law, plus punitive damages and legal fees. That could add up. 

DiMarco isn't being sued because he never signed an NDA, and so legally did nothing wrong. 

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.