Activision Blizzard is suing Netflix for poaching a top executive

“Netflix unapologetically recruits talent without regard to its ethical and legal obligations” 

Video game publisher Activision Blizzard has reportedly hit streaming giant Netflix with a new lawsuit for poaching of one of its top executives.

In the lawsuit filing, obtained by Deadline, Activision Blizzard alleged that Netflix poached its former CFO, Spencer Neumann, back in 2018.

Per the filing, Activision claimed that Netflix “unapologetically recruits talent without regard to its ethical and legal obligations,” and engages in “years-long campaign of unlawfully poaching executives from Netflix’s competitors regardless of their contractual obligations”.

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Activision said this practice “intentionally disregards well-established California law, including the California Labor Code itself, which expressly recognises and permits the enforcement of employment agreements for a fixed term”.

According to Activision, the two companies had been negotiating a commercial partnership when Neumann, who had more than two years on his Activision contract at the time, jumped over to Netflix’s side.

“Netflix engaged in its tortious conduct when Activision — with Neumann’s assistance — was negotiating with Netflix over a commercial partnership to distribute Activision’s linear media content. Netflix then proceeded to induce Neumann to breach his fiduciary obligations to Activision, thereby obtaining yet another an unfair and unethical advantage over Activision, one of Netflix’s competitors”, said Activision in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit filing then goes on to note that Netflix’s poaching of Neumann isn’t an isolated incident, with “multiple lawsuits against Netflix in addition to this one, including one resulting in a California court permanently enjoining Netflix from any continued tortious interference with another one of Netflix’s competitor’s fixed-term employment contracts”.

Activision Blizzard is seeking a permanent injunction against Netflix for soliciting its employees who are under contract, compensatory damages, consequential damages and punitive and statutory damages.

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It is currently unclear what linear media content Activision was planning to release through Netflix before the poaching. In recent months, Netflix has announced a number of original series based on popular games, such as Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness and The Cuphead Show.

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