Opera sues ex-employee for passing secrets to Mozilla
Norwegian browser developer Opera has filed a lawsuit against a former employee for revealing business secrets to competitors. The company has accused 36-year-old designer and musician Trond Werner Hansen of having passed ideas conceived by Opera to the Mozilla Foundation, where they were used during development of a mobile browser. On Monday, Norwegian business newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported that Opera is demanding damages of 20 million Norwegian krone (around €2.6 million or £2.2 million) from Hansen.
According to The Next Web, Hansen worked as a developer at Opera from 1999 to 2006 and as a freelance consultant for the company from 2009 to 2010. In 2012 he worked in a freelance capacity for Mozilla on the iOS browser "Junior". A video from last June shows Mozilla employee Alex Limi, together with Hansen, demonstrating a prototype version of the browser. In the video, Hansen states that he spent seven years trying to simplify Opera – in vain. He attributes this not just to the design of the browser, but also to the structure of the company.
Further details of the features to which the lawsuit refers are not clear. DN refers to features such as a redesigned search button and bookmark placement. Hansen also says Opera is making the claim over a feature called "Search Tabs", which was presented in the same video as the Junior browser, but is unrelated to Junior. Hansen is quoted in the Norwegian newspaper as stating that he find Opera's behaviour "sad and incomprehensible". He states that the ideas at issue were ideas that he proposed to Opera, but which it never implemented and the rights to the ideas were not transferred to the company.
In a post on his personal blog, Hansen expands upon this, stating that after failing to come to an agreement over his ideas for a "Green Browser" concept he informed Opera's CEO that he was going to continue pursuing that idea with a non-profit like Mozilla.
According to DN, Opera declined to provide a statement beyond an explanation from Opera's lawyer which confirms that it has filed the lawsuit, but the company nonetheless did not want to go public with any details in advance of the court hearing. According to Norwegian IT news web site digi.no, the case is expected to be heard before an Oslo court in late August.