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Opera sues former employee for £2.2m claiming breach of loyalty

After jumping ship to Mozilla
Mon Apr 29 2013, 16:55
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SOFTWARE DEVELOPER Opera has sued a former employee, alleging that he stole trade secrets and took them to Mozilla.

Opera, which develops the Opera web browser, claimed that former employee Trond Werner Hansen violated parts of a contract after he left the firm to work for rival web browser outfit Mozilla. Opera has filed a lawsuit against Hansen for a reported 20m Norwegian Krone or £2.2m.

Hansen worked at Opera for at least seven years before moving to Mozilla to work on its Firefox web browser. He has recently been working on mobile web browsers for Mozilla and gave a presentation on an iPad browser codenamed Junior.

In that same presentation, Alexender Limi who also works at Mozilla credited Hansen as the chap behind many innovations at Opera, claiming Hansen was behind putting a search box in the web browser. Opera is often cited as the first popular web browser to incorporate innovations such as tabbed web browsing and the 'speed dial' feature that is found on Mozilla's Firefox, Google's Chrome and Microsoft's Internet Explorer web browsers.

While Hansen has clearly been involved in the development of Mozilla's Junior web browser, it is not known what product specifically caused Opera to file the lawsuit against its former employee or why it has come up with the £2.2m damages claim against Hansen. Instead Ole Tokvam, representing Opera said Hansen failed in some of his "legal obligations" and his "duty of loyalty".

Tokvam said, "Opera is of the opinion that the former employee has acted contrary to his contractual and other legal obligations towards Opera, among other things, the duty of loyalty and his contractual and statutory confidentiality obligations."

Opera's case against Hansen is scheduled to be heard in August. Mozilla did not respond with comment by time of publication. µ


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