Opera suit: Former employee spilled secrets to Mozilla

The Norwegian browser maker seeks $3.4 million from Trond Werner Hansen, who worked with rival browser maker Mozilla last year.

Opera Software has sued former employee Trond Werner Hansen, alleging that he gave trade secrets to rival browser maker Mozilla.

The Norwegian company seeks damages of 20 million kroner, or $3.4 million, according to a report by newspaper Dagens Naeringsliv, which uncovered the suit and wrote about it Monday.

"Opera is of the opinion that the former employee has acted contrary to his contractual and other legal obligations towards Opera. Among other things, we claim that he is in breach of the duty of loyalty and his contractual and statutory confidentiality obligations," said Ole E. Tokvam, a lawyer with Bing Hodneland Advokatselskap who represents Opera.

Hansen strongly denied the allegations in a blog post Monday. "I strongly disagree with their position, and I believe I have been wrongly accused, and that I can prove my case," he wrote on the blog, which detailed his employment at Opera, a "green browser" project he tried to get the company interested in, and some of his work for Mozilla in 2012.

"The lawsuit caused me to have to return to Norway, instead of pursuing my album release and other art projects in New York," Hansen told CNET.

Tokvam declined to share further details and said the lawsuit itself "is not considered as a public document." The next stage in the case is a hearing in late August before the Oslo City Court, he added.

Hansen, who worked for Opera in the last decade and who more recently worked with Mozilla on product design, describes himself as an artist, songwriter, and designer.

For its part, the Firefox developer said it's on the sidelines.

"Mozilla is not being sued, and is not implicated in the lawsuit. Mr. Hansen worked for a time as an independent contractor and is no longer affiliated with Mozilla Corporation," the non-profit organization said in a statement.

Opera and Mozilla both have seen better days in the browser world. Opera has thrown its lot in with Google, adopting the search giant's Blink browser engine and scrapping its own Presto, in an attempt to stay more competitive. Mozilla, which helped reawaken Web development after Microsoft let it languish with Internet Explorer, now faces a serious challenge gaining a foothold in the mobile market.

Updated at 1:57 p.m. PT with comment from Hansen, Opera's attorney, and Mozilla.

Via The Next Web

About the author

Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and covers browsers, Web development, digital photography and new technology. In the past he has been CNET's beat reporter for Google, Yahoo, Linux, open-source software, servers and supercomputers. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces.

 

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