Last month, gaming company Electronic Arts Inc. sued its rival Zynga Inc. for copyright infringement, accusing it of ripping off EA’s game “The Sims Social” with “The Ville.” On Friday, Zynga fired back with a countersuit that claims one element of EA’s original case violates a deal between the two companies that restricts Zynga’s ability to hire EA employees.

In the claim in question, EA accused Zynga of obtaining private information about “The Sims Social” when it hired three EA employees shortly before it launched “The Ville.” In its filing, though, Zynga is calling shenanigans, saying that its 2011 deal with EA in which Zynga agreed to restrictions on its soliciting of EA employees also included a provision that prevented EA from filing legal claims surrounding Zynga’s hiring practices.

“Today we responded to EA’s claims which we believe have no merit,” Zynga General Counsel Reggie Davis said in a statement.  “We also filed a counterclaim which addresses actions by EA we believe to be anticompetitive and unlawful business practices, including legal threats and demands for no-hire agreements. We look forward to getting back to focusing all our efforts on delighting our players.”

EA spokesman John Reseburg called Zynga’s move “a predictable subterfuge,” and said “Zynga would be better served trying to hold onto the shrinking number of employees they’ve got, rather than suing to acquire more.”

Read more at Thomson Reuters and Joystiq.


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