Zynga alleges EA chief executive proposed “no hire” pact

Zynga has filed a counterclaim against Electronic Arts, part of which alleges that EA's chief executive John Riccitello proposed a "no hire" pact.

Zynga has filed a counterclaim against Electronic Arts, part of which alleges that EA's chief executive John Riccitiello proposed a "no hire" pact, reports VentureBeat. The anti-competitive deal was apparently offered to Zynga's former chief operating officer, John Schappert.

The claim comes in response to EA's current copyright infringement lawsuit. Polygon reported earlier on the original lawsuit, which claims that Zynga's The Ville "is a ‘blatant' copy of EA's The Sims Social." Complaints that Zynga had poached executives were presented along with copyright infringement.

Schappert, a former EA employee himself, was allegedly contacted by Riccitiello via email. According to Zynga, the company has been receiving job applications from EA employees for years. Riccitiello asked Schappert to refer any EA employees courting Zynga for a job directly back to him.

"Some of our people will always leave. But they are leaving for one place—Zynga ..." Riccitiello reportedly wrote to Schappert. "I get that they can reach out. The question is what happens when they do. Listen and send them back to me, or their boss at EA. Or, listen, nod, and lend a hand ... We are crossing into a place I don't think we want to be. ... But I believe you can and should find more talent outside of EA."

Zynga declined the pact, which allegedly enraged EA. Riccitiello is then said to have approached EA's legal team.

According to Zynga, Riccitiello "was placing ‘extraordinary pressure' on the EA legal team to finally obtain a go-forward no-hire agreement ... that would prohibit Zynga's future ability to hire EA remployees. If Zynga refused to agree to the no-hire, then Mr. Riccitiello wanted Zynga to know he would file an objectively and subjectively baseless sham lawsuit against Zynga for the express purpose of chilling Zynga's future hiring of EA employees and discouraging EA employees from seeking out or accepting employment with Zynga."

John Reseburg, EA's spokesman, responded to the claim: "This is a predictable subterfuge aimed at diverting attention from Zynga's persistent plagiarism of other artists and studios. Zynga would be better served trying to hold on to the shrinking number of employees they've got, rather than suing to acquire more."

A copy of the filings can be found on Scribd, with documents one, two, and three.

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