On Wednesday, Aristocrat filed a breach of intellectual property law proceeding in Australia’s Federal Court, accusing AGT of thieving technology that Aristocrat introduced in its popular Lightning Link slot machine for use in AGT’s own Jackpot Strike machine. The suit also accuses AGT of breaking Australian Consumer law.
Aristocrat said its lawsuit “goes well beyond simple copyright infringement and concerns allegations of extensive and deliberate misappropriation of trade secrets, confidential information and intellectual property.” AGT issued its own statement on Thursday, saying it would be “vigorously defending” itself against Aristocrat’s allegations.
Lightning Link has proven enormously popular with slots fans in both Australian and North American casinos, and has been credited with helping to goose Aristocrat’s bottom line.
In April 2018, Aristocrat filed a legal action demanding access to AGT files relating to the development of the Jackpot Strike product, including the game’s source code, mathematical tables and other commercial documents. AGT replied by saying that a “reasonable search” of its own documentation revealed nothing untoward.
However, Aristocrat floated a theory involving some executive espionage on the part of one Sujay Prabhu, a former AGT exec who went to work for Aristocrat for all of three weeks before returning to AGT, where he became game design team leader. Aristocrat claims Prabhu’s first project in his second go-round at AGT was none other than Jackpot Strike.
Aristocrat claimed at the time that Prabhu had inserted a USB thumb drive into Aristocrat servers in violation of company policy and searched through files unrelated to the project to which he was assigned. Prabhu subsequently claimed to have lost this USB drive when he moved house.
Interestingly, when Prabhu accepted the job at Aristocrat, AGT was the firm complaining that the designer may have been guilty of “wilful misappropriation” of its intellectual property and insider info. Regardless, Prabhu was welcomed back to AGT following his dismissal from Aristocrat.