Kixeye has filed a cross-complaint against fellow San Francisco based social games firm Zynga for allegedly violating California competition practices.
Zynga's suit was originally brought against former key executive Alan Patmore, who the firm accused of stealing - among other things - various company trade secrets.
Shortly after leaving his position as general manager of CityVille at Zynga, Patmore was appointed by Kixeye to oversee "all aspects of product strategy and development".
Zynga subsequently broadened its suit to include Kixeye. Kixeye's cross-complaint argues that Zynga's original suit has two aims, "both of which are calculated to give it an unfair and illegal competitive advantage over Kixeye:
"(1) to send a message to its employees about the consequences of leaving Zynga to work at Kixeye in an effort to chill the mobility of those employees and/or to interfere with Kixeye's own ability to produce competitive games and
"(2) to use the litigation as a Trojan Horse to gain access to Kixeye's own confidential, valuable information and trade secrets and bog Kixeye down in the wasted time and expense of litigation while Zynga tries to enter the midcore market."
Among other things, Kixeye is seeking injunctive relief prohibiting Zynga from interfering with the company's employment rights, restitution and/or disgorgement, plus attorneys' fees and costs.
In a strongly worded statement sent to CVG, Kixeye CEO Will Harbin said: "We believe Zynga is manipulating the legal process and fabricating claims against Kixeye to access our trade secrets.
"Their illustrious history of using their legal department to exploit and slander competitors that they can't otherwise out-perform is well documented. We will not stand for it.
"We will fight to our last breath to keep this predatory company from accessing our confidential information and best practices. We intend to defend ourselves from Zynga's legal bullying for as long as it takes to reveal the truth - that Kixeye played no part in this.
"As we have stated previously, we have zero interest in Zynga's IP or 'trade secrets.' Our games are categorically different from theirs in almost every way. Claiming that their failed business practices could inform ours further establishes their complete lack of understanding of the gaming business."