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Opera sues designer for leaking trade secrets

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#1 +Phouchg

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 20:21

Norwegian browser maker Opera Software has filed suit against Trond Werner Hansen, one of its former developers, alleging that Hansen took trade secrets with him when he went to work with Opera rival Mozilla.


[..] Hansen worked at Opera from 1999 through 2006. There he led design and UI development, first for the Windows version of the Opera browser, then for the cross-platform Desktop version. He later returned as an independent consultant from 2009 to 2010, at Opera's request.


Then in 2012, Hansen began to work with the Mozilla Foundation, makers of the open source Firefox browser – and that's when things got dicey.
According to Opera, Hansen's contributions to Mozilla projects included Opera trade secrets, and the company is now suing Hansen for 20m Norwegian kroner ($3.4m/£2.2) in damages as a result.

...

Hansen discusses "Junior", Mozilla's experimental browser for the iPad, which features a stripped-down UI that lacks many of the traditional UI controls found in browsers for desktop platforms. Superficially, at least, Junior appears to incorporate many ideas that Hansen advocated while at Opera, where for many years he maintained that the Opera browser's UI was too heavy and needed to be simplified. But Hansen argues that these are simply his own ideas about UI design and usability, and not any kind of intellectual property to which Opera could lay claim.

Hansen told the paper that he first learned of Opera's lawsuit in the summer of 2012, when he was living in New York City and pursuing a music career. Now those plans have been put on hold, he says, and he has been forced to return to Norway, where he lives with friends and family and has been selling off assets to support himself.

[..] a hearing on the matter is scheduled for late August 2013.


Source (El Reg)


Commentary:

Seriously? What trade secrets, crackpots? Neither there are any secrets nor Opera has anything special to trade, given that their market share is a 1% flatline at best and a rounding error at worst, and for a good reason. Looks like the biggest crybabies of Microsoft Browser Ballot kaboodle need some new office chairs or whatever is that Google won't gladly pay for. I somehow doubt that even if Hansen stole their whole source code and handed over to Mitchell Baker in person, he doesn't have those asked millions anyway, so it's all a lost cause to begin with. Norway must be the home of the original, non-proverbial trolls for a reason...

Edited by Marshall, 01 May 2013 - 15:08.



#2 +DonC

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 20:31

The opera that is Opera.

#3 Doli

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 20:33

Source (El Reg)


Commentary:

Seriously? What trade secrets, crackpots? Neither there are any secrets nor Opera has anything special to trade...


Special to...trade? :huh: Do you know what a trade secret is?

#4 spacer

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 20:41

I'm not really sure how Opera has a case here. They need to prove that code used in Firefox is, line for line, the exact same as code in Opera AND that it was a result of this guy working for Mozilla. It just sounds like they're complaining that their competition has a product that offers similar UI features, but implemented in a better fashion.

#5 Tom

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 20:42

If Opera sues you, you've got problems. They're one of the nicest companies around.

#6 OP +Phouchg

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 21:05

Opera is 100% financed by their own chief competitor (Google), they are in market for longer than any of them (except Microsoft), but have failed to gain any meaningful market share. There are no tricks up their sleeve or anything that can give them advantage (trade secrets - awesome ideas that nobody else could ever think of), never have been, never will, especially now that they have switched to putting yet another skin around Webkit anyway. They are desperate to keep their offices afloat and resort to petty disputes that will not bear fruit.

As for mobile market - there's two big ones for their respective platforms - Android stock (and its "skins") and Safari. Given the gimped functionality of mobile devices in general, they do their job perfectly and enjoy full backing of platform providers. That's why even Mozilla can't get into it, with their experience and big promises.

As for interface disputes they are claiming there - other lawsuits, like those of Apple vs Samsung, involving patents and prior art, seem to have *so much success* and are a surefire way of winning hearts of general public, yes? No, it most definitely is not.



As for my improper use of terms and nomenclature - I beg your pardon for my broken English. my misplaced, uncultivated irony, my bad temper and all too often uncontrolled outright anger.

#7 Azies

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 21:15

Oh geez, Firefox and Opera look almost identical, who copied who here, or is Opera based off of Firefox now?

#8 PreKe

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 22:26

I'm not really sure how Opera has a case here. They need to prove that code used in Firefox is, line for line, the exact same as code in Opera AND that it was a result of this guy working for Mozilla. It just sounds like they're complaining that their competition has a product that offers similar UI features, but implemented in a better fashion.


I don't think this is about code. It's about technology presented in a video from Mozilla a while back. In fact, the guy who was sued even admits that he took stuff he made while on Opera's payroll to Mozilla.

So basically: Guy gets hired as a contractor. He gets paid to make some cool features. He then takes those features which he was paid for at Opera to a competitor, obviously breaching his contract with Opera and passing on trade secrets to the competitor.

Opera seems to be complaining that their competition got their hands on top secret stuff.

#9 PreKe

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 22:33

There are no tricks up their sleeve or anything that can give them advantage (trade secrets - awesome ideas that nobody else could ever think of), never have been, never will, especially now that they have switched to putting yet another skin around Webkit anyway. They are desperate to keep their offices afloat and resort to petty disputes that will not bear fruit.


I'm not sure why you think Opera is desperately trying to stay afloat. For a couple of years now they've had record profits and revenues every single quarter. They are making plenty of money, and they are growing their revenue by something like 30-40% a year. Opera is doing very well indeed financially.

What makes you think they will be just a skin around Webkit? Apparently they're making a new UI from scratch, which is nothing like creating just a skin.

And why are you dismissing the first mover advantage? If there's an awesome feature and Opera is first to market, they will obviously benefit from that.

As for interface disputes they are claiming there - other lawsuits, like those of Apple vs Samsung, involving patents and prior art, seem to have *so much success* and are a surefire way of winning hearts of general public, yes? No, it most definitely is not.


But this isn't Opera suing Mozilla. This is Opera suing a contractor who allegedly stole Opera's trade secrets and sold them to Mozilla. Do you think it's OK for someone to get access to confidential information and then sell it to the highest bidder?

#10 +warwagon

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 22:35

Neobrowser FTW!

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#11 Athernar

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Posted 29 April 2013 - 23:25

Opera trying to stifle competition and the open web yet again, as if selling out the open web in favour of making cheap Webkit frontends wasn't bad enough.

#12 Growled

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 00:31

Superficially, at least, Junior appears to incorporate many ideas that Hansen advocated while at Opera, where for many years he maintained that the Opera browser's UI was too heavy and needed to be simplified.


So basically he went to a competitor and used the ideas that Opera never would.

#13 HawkMan

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 07:10

No, Opera is pretty small scale by our standards.

I'm just pointing out that correcting everything you thought you knew would pretty much require e to rewrite the wikipedia to cover it. I use Opera but couldn't care much less about the company.

while it's a small company desktop browser share wise, they are a fairly big company, they make a lot of money and are growing. and have a lot of very good contracts for their browser and other products of theirs. So don't complain to me because I pointed out your little rant of a company/browser you don't like didn't contain a single fact.

#14 Javik

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 07:21

This just highlights how stupid modern I.P laws are getting. Companies shouldn't be allowed to have patents and I.P protection on things that aren't even used in their products

#15 HawkMan

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Posted 30 April 2013 - 08:23

This just highlights how stupid modern I.P laws are getting. Companies shouldn't be allowed to have patents and I.P protection on things that aren't even used in their products


So it's stupid that a company claims ownership of something someone spent their time and money creating. Maybe if he wanted to keep ownerships of these things, he should first have checked what his job at opera actually was and what they wanted him to make for them, and not spend their time to create "his" new UX ideas.

While patent laws may need an adjustment, dropping IP and patent laws is patently stupid. while patent laws as they are today, may hinder development, dropping them completely would hinder them just as much, since no one would ever go to a backer that can afford to develop their ideas to have them developed, as the company would just turn them away and develop the idea without him afterwards.

and heck nothing says Opera isn't or isn't going to use these IP, just that at the time when he presented them it wasn't something they where doing at the time. The lawsuit rather indicates this is something they have or are implementing in mini/mobile.