Epic Sues Game Tester Over Trade Secret Breach
Epic Games, Inc. v. Ronald Sykes
United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Western Division
Case No.: 5:19-cv-0476
Filed: October 25, 2019
Video game developer Epic Games, known for its worldwide massively popular game Fortnite, is suing Ronald Sykes, a user experience tester for the video game. The lawsuit alleges that Sykes spoiled and revealed content before it was publicly released for Fortnite’s Chapter 2.
Fortnite is currently the most popular game in the world, and sports a massive playerbase who jumped into the game following last year’s rapid expansion of the Battle Royale game genre. Recently, Fortnite trended worldwide on social media as the game’s map was suddenly sucked into a virtual black hole and after a number of days of total downtime, a new map reemerged in its place along with numerous other changes.
The lawsuit alleges that Sykes broke his contractual obligation to keep Epic Games’ secrets about upcoming Fortnite content. By revealing this privileged information, Sykes was also able to profit off of its disclosure. Further, the suit alleges that Sykes divulged Epic’s trade secrets, which was a material breach of his non-disclosure agreement.
According to Epic’s complaint, Epic Games derives significant value and/or potential value from its trade secrets in the game Fortnite. Pursuant to that complaint, Epic had also taken steps to protect these secrets by: maintaining secure working environments, requiring a full non-disclosure agreements for all who had access to these trade secrets, as well as limiting this info only to essential developers, testers, and senior management, with all the information locked behind a password protected multi-factor authentication system.
The lawsuit claims a breach of contract under North Carolina law, misappropriation of trade secrets under North Carolina law, and misappropriation of trade secrets under the Federal Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016.
We will continue to provide updates to this suit as it progresses.