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My former employer Opera Software has filed a lawsuit against me (trondblog.tumblr.com)
475 points by sverrejoh 1632 days ago | hide | past | web | 232 comments | favorite

I wish I knew someone who used Opera so I could ask them to start boycotting it.

I use Opera on the desktop and on my mobile devices. So does my wife. I'm not going to stop using it because of a lawsuit, let alone for one that has not had any facts proven in a court.

I really don't understand why people who don't know the facts of cases like this (i.e., you don't have an inside knowledge of the nitty-gritty), jump to conclusions to readily. Aren't we supposed to be a community of rational, thoughtful people that use facts and evidence to backup opinions?

Do you stop using Google products when they get sued by various government agencies for things like collecting WiFi data? Why doesn't Google get the benefit of your doubt but not other companies?

What I know from this and the news articles is that Opera has sued a former employee for $3.4 million because they think he gave secret information to a nonprofit. The guy hasn't worked there full time since 2006, but Opera has decided to seriously fuck up his life.

What more do I need to know? Google has a thousand times as many employees, but when's the last time they sued one of them like this?

Were I in Opera's shoes, even if the ex-employee had blabbed something important to a competitor, I would say, "fuck that jerk" and keep on trying to make something awesome. Having ideas doesn't make companies great. It's making great things. A lawsuit is a waste of time and money for everybody involved.

> ...because they think he gave secret information to a nonprofit.

That it is a non-profit is hardly meaningful. It's still a competitor, a competitor that seeks surplus revenues. It doesn't make the lawsuit any more or less valid.

> What more do I need to know?

How about the facts of the case rather than the surface-level circumstances? That's probably a start. I'm not saying Opera is in the right for this, but I think it's a bit premature to start casting heroes and villains in this particular narrative.

It doesn't make the lawsuit more or less valid. But that's for courts to decide. It does make Opera more a jerk for pursuing it, which is what I am focusing on here.

By your logic, I should really wait for the case to be resolved to have an opinion on it. That, again, is the right take for a judge. But personally, I think companies suing employees is almost always a bad idea, especially when a) it looks like a way of getting back at a competitor, and b) it could have a chilling effect on innovation. So if Opera wants me to not see them as bullies, they are welcome to make a statement about why they're suing. If they do that, my opinion may change, but I'm perfectly comfortable keeping my opinion.

> The guy hasn't worked there full time since 2006, but Opera has decided to seriously fuck up his life.

That's an interesting reading of the former employee's story. According to his post, he entered into a consulting agreement with Opera in 2009 and between 2009 and the time his agreement was terminated in late 2010, "some of my design proposals will naturally be based on some of my older GB concepts."

I don't think anyone has enough information at this point to pass judgement on the merits of the case, but at a minimum, this looks like a pretty good example of what can go wrong when you involve ideas you've developed on your own in a consulting relationship, particularly when there's a chance you may want to further explore those ideas after the relationship ends.

While reading, this was my conclusion too. If he wrote down the ideas somewhere, he could prove that the ideas and concept was original his. Even in Europe, disclosing ideas early can be useful, as it protects oneself from trade secret claims.

Isn't Mozilla corporation (not foundation) for-profit?

Edit: according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mozilla_Corporation it is for-profit

The Mozilla Corporation is a "for-profit" entity, which mostly means it pays taxes on its profits, if any.

The Mozilla Foundation, which owns the Mozilla Corporation, is a non-profit (which means several things in this instance, like the fact that it does not pay corporate income taxes and donations to it are tax-deductible).

Every so often, the Mozilla Corporation, pays dividends to its sole owner (the Foundation).

So one flow of money is as follows: The Mozilla Corporation has revenue, spends some of it on things like salaries, rent for offices, etc, pays taxes on what's left, then saves some of the rest for future capital expenditures and pays the rest out as dividends to the Mozilla Foundation.

Another flow of money is people donating directly to the Mozilla Foundation.

The Mozilla Foundation then spends the money it has on various things that futher its mission, including grants to various open-source projects and whatnot.

The reason the setup is what it is, as I understand, is that there were some questions as to whether some of Mozilla's revenue sources were OK for a legal nonprofit, precisely because nonprofits do not pay taxes on any excess of revenue over expenses. So this dual structure was set up to make sure that taxes were paid on anything that looked like profit from operations, just in case.

Note that in all cases there are no individuals who are getting paid the profits as there would be in a privately held company, nor are there shareholders involved apart from the Foundation.

All of which is to say that the term "for-profit" doesn't necessarily mean the entity's sole purpose is to maximize profit, or indeed to make one at all; it's simply a classification for tax law purposes...

As always, I am not a corporate tax lawyer (nor any kind of lawyer), and this is not legal advice. ;)

> All of which is to say that the term "for-profit" doesn't necessarily mean the entity's sole purpose is to maximize profit, or indeed to make one at all; it's simply a classification for tax law purposes...

Except the minor detail that any for-profit is in fact legally OBLIGED to maximize profit for its shareholders.

That is incorrect. Any company must act in the best interest of its shareholders. A publicly-traded company must maximize profit because that's the implicit nature of it: I buy stock in the market because I want a return on my investment. But if all shareholders of a given company (say, Mozilla) want to produce something for the good of the Internet and not make a profit, that's up to the shareholders.

A "non-profit" status simply gives the organization certain tax advantages because the state understands that the organization is acting on the best interest of the community, rather than its shareholders. But if a for-profit wants to do the same and not take advantage of said tax benefits, that's up to the shareholders to decide.


Corporations in the United States are legally obligated to maximize profit.

It's not an implicit nature, it's an explicit legal requirement.

That's a common belief, but quite false. See Wikipedia:


Can you provide a link to the law that says a corporation must maximize profit even when it's against the desires of its shareholders?

I believe the requirement to maximize profit is a requirement of the stock exchanges, not a requirement of being a company.

A company can be created for many different purposes.

Even if that were true, only the shareholders would have standing to sue them for failing to maximize profit. Clearly the only shareholder, the Mozilla Foundation, is not going to sue Mozilla Corporation for doing what the shareholder wants it to.

You're confusing "for-profit" and "publicly traded". It's commonly held that publicly traded companies should be maximizing shareholder value (which is not necessarily the same as profit), because that's the purpose of publicly traded corporations.

There are also various protections for minority shareholders in privately held companies to prevent majority shareholders from screwing them over.

And there are various rules about how the company's officers need to pay attention to the shareholders.

In this case, there is precisely one shareholder: the Mozilla Foundation. So the various minority-shareholder protection stuff does not apply, but the officers of the Mozilla Corporation do need to pay attention to what the Foundation wants the Corporation to do. And what the sole shareholder wants the Corporation to do in this case is decidedly not to maximize profit.

Except the minor detail that being for-profit does not, itself, imply that the company has shareholders.

It is fairly common for non-profits to own for profit subsidiaries which often become the main sources of revenue and sustainability for the non-profit.

When they were talking to me about the job they say the corp is required to keep salaries etc secret and otehr operational things.

$3.4 million NOK = $600,000 USD

Still a lot of money, but they also claim that they lost $20M NOK because of this alleged breach and that's just $4M USD, which is when put in perspective - peanuts.

there's no such thing as $3.4 million NOK. it's either $ or NOK.

lawsuit is for 20 million NOK which equals roughly $3.4 million.

>>keep on trying to make something awesome.

Opera is not seeing a traction as in some very good numbers. It's been always there as that browser some people use. Maybe innovating is not on their agenda anymore and they would rather be happy (or might scheme/plan) this way to be rather acquired for a good some.

There are many many many many many people who have stopped using Google products for various political and policy reasons. You know this right?

yes I am one of the many, check out owncloud if you want to download your data and setup your own cloud. Its pretty easy to setup. As for search, If you are not anti MSFT bing does a decent job on most topics, if you are, in that case duckduckgo, and many other engines out there are not too shabby either. I really want an alternative to youtube. Tired of being raped with 30 second ads for every vid I watch.

Inflating an advertisement to 'rape' is in poor taste.

you do know that you can skip that ad after 5 seconds right?

Some ads now do not offer for you to skip, I think this is ad and region dependent though.

I can tell you in NYC you can skip ad's every 3rd or 4th video only !!

I think he was making a playful joke at Opera's expense, rather than seriously suggesting a boycott.

> Aren't we supposed to be a community of rational, thoughtful people that use facts and evidence to backup opinions?

HA! You must be new here.

I for one have started shedding the Google products. Im slowly switching to alternatives. I find Google creepy company and don't like being sold. I have 2 products left to drop.

"[I] don't like being sold."

Are you serious? They are giving you a free and awesome product and you find it annoying that they earn money marketing to you personally? But not annoyed enough to completely stop using their products....

Three things:

1.) Not everybody thinks Google's products are so all-fired awesome across the board.

2.) Plenty of people find it very annoying to constantly be targeted by marketing everywhere they go. If it's free, you're the product - though that's not to say that simply paying for something protects you from abuse.

3.) Having a dig at someone for complaining about something but still using it is silly. Even if a given Google product is the best in its field, that doesn't necessarily make it the perfect solution.

Plus, there's the economic argument - if you've got to use Google whatever because you can't afford a paid alternative, you're essentially being made to participate in their marketing by not being able to buy your way out.

I'm not saying this is unique to Google, or that this is true across the board, of course, but it's not unreasonable in the slightest to be uncomfortable with the way they do business.

This is a better response that mine. I'll add to 1) by commenting that UI design is often unfriendly. It's better than it used to be but its not nice to use and looks ugly. It took several minutes for myself and someone else to find the forward button in gmail 2 days ago after the latest redesign hid it in a menu.

I hate adverts so very very much. If prefer to pay google money than have them. And targeting adverts when in gmail is not right. Which products are awesome that don't have a pretty-damn-close competitor? I'd say that search was the only one. Advertising's reach, continual harassment and unrealistic offerings turn me right off.

which are those two google products you are still using?

If I had to guess, Maps and GMail. I've been trying to get rid of Google as well, and there aren't really any good alternatives to Maps and changing email addresses is a hassle.

Gmail is used as a dumping ground - its basically a backup for my @me/@ucloud accounts. I do find it harder to track down old emails, but way easier to send new and receive new ones - the use of symbols and random changes google makes to gmail are irritating. The other is (off all things) blogger. I have a huge collection of years of work related problems and solutions. This will be moved soon. Maps I don't really miss at all - where I am Apples are just as good for my occasional needs.

Unfortunately facebook is filled to the brim with outright false postings and millions of people jumping to conclusions to argue based on them.

Only know this because I got into the habit of googling when I see something fishy. Usually takes 30 seconds to find out ~90% of them are flat-out false. Shame there's no downvote button.

>I use Opera on the desktop and on my mobile devices. So does my wife.

OK. We just need to find the other 10.

Why do people get out of their way to use some marginal browser when there better both proprietary and open source options available?

Just to add to the web another slightly incompatible rendering engine? Or do they really like the gimmicky extras that Opera offers that much?

Everything I like about FireFox (gestures, tabbed browsing, a reasonable bookmark manager), Opera did first. I used Opera for years back when it flat killed Netscape and IE for features and standards compliance. I only left once FireFox implemented all of the same features I had come to rely on in Opera, PLUS developing its growing add-on ecosystem.

Gimmicky? Marginal? Not in the least. Sure, Opera, as a foreign, small, scrappy little software company wasn't able to knock off the behemoths of MSIE, Google/Chrome and Netscape-cum-Mozilla. But so what? The fact that they've been ahead of the feature curve as long as they have and are still in the fight is, to me, pretty dang amazing and quietly one of the most surprising stories in software in the last 15 years.

I've always been a fan of that resilient little Norwegian shop, and I'm sorry to see them (or, more than likely, their lawyers) get dragged into the unseemly world of lawsuits and recrimination. Hopefully this will resolve itself more amicably than it has started.

EDIT: I don't mean to be snarky or mean, but this bit made me SOL (snort out loud):

  "..another slightly incompatible rendering engine?"
Opera's earliest claim to fame, back in the godawful days of the real incompatibility wars, was its near-religious adherence to W3 standards. A lot of web developers in the late nineties/early oughts would use Opera as the benchmark browser, and then resolve various quirks-mode issues from there. If it worked in Opera, you could be reasonable sure the problem wasn't with your code, but with a quirk that you were about to have to fork your code on, for Netscape or IE.

Opera might have been ahead in the past, but is it still ahead? Having tried their browser, I must have missed something because I think Firefox with addons is way better.

I find brand fidelity particularly nonsensical when a company is going downhill on the quality of its products.

Compared to Chrom(e|ium), I don’t get crashes on every other website, a decent release cycle, a decent repository and, you know, a browser that does what I want rather than forcing me to want what it does. Oh, and a functional speed dial.

Compared to Firefox, it actually makes decent use of RAM, doesn’t require fifty-five trillions of addons to work remotely properly (and hence doesn’t require updating of said fifty-five trillions of addons every other day) and a decent release cycle.

Oh, it also works on my phone and I just had to copy over wand.dat to get all my passwords there as well :-)

I wouldn't say they're all that terribly behind. I use Opera daily and rarely have issues with websites. The last really big issue I remember was the Twitter fiasco when they found out Presto wasn't prepared for a Javascript file that was larger than average and only had a single statement because replacing semicolons with commas became the cool thing to do.

>Everything I like about FireFox (gestures, tabbed browsing, a reasonable bookmark manager), Opera did first.

So? Do you still use Mosaic because it did first most of the important things Opera does now? How about sticking with IE, because it brought as AJAX first?

If Mosaic had a current version with a rendering engine and enclosing feature set as competitive as the current Opera is vs. Chrome and FF, yeah I might. But, as I said, I don't even use Opera right now, only because FireFox's add-on ecosystem makes it the better choice. But otherwise Opera is still a competitive, high-performing browser, and completely reasonable choice for the discriminating nerd.

I never used IE. Because...IE.

Would you hypothetically not use a fast, super-compliant, feature-rich Mosaic out of an irrational bias?

>Would you hypothetically not use a fast, super-compliant, feature-rich Mosaic out of an irrational bias?

No bias. I've tried to use Opera from time to time. Always stopped because:

1) Awkward UI. The QT theme engine it used (still has?) made it always look and feel off, in both Windows and OS X.

2) Some extra features (mail? download manager?) felt subpar compared to dedicated apps. Why would I need those in a browser anyway? That's why I stopped using Mozilla for Firefox 5-6 years ago.

3) The main operation of any browser, err, browsing web pages, was frequently hit with bugs, incompatibilities etc. I was always left out when browsing the more advanced HTML5 stuff, what with WebGL etc. And I never particularly liked the font rendering.

Some stuff I did like. But an incompatible engine and a bad look & feel didn't really entice me to keep using a browser. Mouse gestures etc, I could not care less, I find them gimmicky anyway.

Because Opera has

a.) a bookmark manager that doesn't suck (split view for life) b.) configuration dialogs that aren't boiled down to the utter newbie minimum, and a context menu that actually has a bunch of things in it c.) a GUI that's configurable like play-doh (even more so if you get into .ini files as well) d.) if that's your thing, there are skins available for it that seriously maximize screen estate

What are you calling gimmicky? And are all the CLI commands unix comes with gimmicks for you, too? Do you consider having more than one mouse button a gimmick as well? Heh.

> Why do people get out of their way to use some marginal browser when there better both proprietary and open source options available?

This is simple: None are available (for me). They are (take your pick for your specific browser):

  - Slow
  - Memory-inefficient (i.e. they either use too much memory when I need it for other tasks or they use not enough when I don't need it and they could use it to provide a better experience, e.g. faster tab switching)
  - Instable for my use case (50-100 tabs)
  - Have no good mouse gestures (all the plugins for FF suck)
  - ...

I've used Opera for a long time, and when I started using it it was simply alone on top of a lot of crap browsers. Now there are several decent alternatives, all of which are very frustrating for me. I work on multiple computers and have multiple computers at home. I'm lazy. Hence, no plugins should be required, so I get the experience I want installing just the browser.

For the most part Chrome or Fox or even IE10 behave similarly enough that I can almost use them instead of Opera. I think there's just 2 exceptions. Whenever I use another browser I find myself getting frustrated with 2 things: (1) Nothing happens when I "roll-left" over the mouse buttons (navigate back). (2) Tabs MORONICALLY cycle left-to-right, rather than in most recently used order. Both are show-stoppers for me, and I don't care if a plug-in can fix it, as long as Opera is otherwise more or less on par with the alternatives.

So the public for Opera is bizarro outliers? (100 tabs! Love of mouse gestures!)

I acknowledge your point on the tabs, but not on the gestures. It provides a genius way execute actions, probably faster than anything else. I would almost say that is a fact, and that if you don't agree then it's because you haven't used it.

I'm still using firefox because of pentadactyl. It lets you switch to a tab by substring search of title/url.

If you have 100 tabs open (I often do too) how do you switch to a specific tab with mouse gestures?

(Genuinely curious; seems a shame to have to specify, but I don't want to be misunderstood)

At 7 billion people on this planet, there well may be enough ‘bizarro outliers’ who don’t want a Mac OS X-like browsing experience to justify a special browser.

- Have no integrated mail system

Aside from the other reasons already mentioned here, I'd like to point out that it's also the only browser that seems to have a competent 64-bit implementation for Windows at the moment. This is literally the only reason I migrated to Opera not too long ago.

I have 16gb of ram on my pc, and regularly have >100 tabs open at any given time; I may be in a weird minority of some sort, but decent x64 support really makes my life a lot easier. I still load up Chrome and Firefox when I know I'm only going to be using them for a short/quick session, but as much as I like them, they just become awfully painful to use beyond that use case for me. Unfortunately, it seems Opera is following suit with the other vendors and is probably abandoning its x64 version, but at least they were the one vendor that pursued it enough to release something usable. Waterfox and the 'official' x64 builds of Firefox crash way too much for me to even consider. I understand the hell of trying to port to a 64-bit architecture when you're reliant on tons of old 32-bit libraries and such, but I really don't like this trend of staying overly complacent in the 32-bit realm when our hardware has been capable of more for a good while now...

When I'm on Linux however: Chromium all the way!

> Why do people get out of their way to use some marginal browser when there better both proprietary and open source options available?

What is your apparently universal definition of "better," please?

I've never tried, let alone use Opera. I just keep hearing something like that exists.

For now it feels like a 'me too' product which simply exists in the market.

Was this meant to be a response to my question to `coldtea, or a general comment? The exact same words could be used by an IE user describing Chrome, or a Windows user describing OS X. They make no reference to "better."

(Not to mention that Opera - the source tree and the product - is older than most of major browsers today, so technically others are the "me too" products...)

As I replied in another thread, older means nothing.

Most young people don't even care about an era when there parents read news on Emacs.

May I ask why you replied specifically to my comment if your statement wasn't addressing anything I said?

I haven't used Opera on desktop in probably a decade, but it's been around since before Mozilla. How is it a 'me too' product?

Note most people(young) might not even be aware of the era you are talking about.

They might be the first to do something. But so was AOL to many things. Who(or how many compare to their competitors) uses AOL these days?

I'm probably what most people would consider young (22), but I see your point. But 'me too' has a very specific connotation of entering a market late because everyone is doing it, at least to me, which is the opposite of what Opera has done.

Opera were the pioneers of the tab, speed dial and many things. They are by no means "me too".

Or do they really like the gimmicky extras that Opera offers that much?

This. I started using Opera long before Chrome even existed. A basic thing: Hold the right-mouse button and click the left. It takes you back to the previous page. Chrome still doesn't do that.

It's the UI that I prefer, not the rendering engine.

The major reason that I use Opera is the built-in mail client. I have half a dozen email accounts and using multi-account login in Gmail is a bit of a pain. Having the email client built into the browser checks all my accounts for me (using IMAP) so I have one "Unread" tab open instead of 6 Gmail tabs.

Exactly. I'm trying to use other browsers too and stuff like these, like the way how ctrl+tab works, or, especially!!!, tabs thumbnails (seriously, this is the best thing ever) are keeping me coming back to Opera

Uhh, maybe you should try that in Chrome. The very first item on the drop down menu that comes up is the back button and no you don't need to release right click to click on it. Also, it's even faster than Opera, you can just right click and then release it over back and not have to left click at all.

It's not using 'back'. It's a 'rocker' gesture to navigate between tabs. Right click anywhere, then left click while holding it, move to the left tab. And vice versa.

I may be confused what you're referring to, but switching between tabs is right click + scroll wheel.

Why do people get out of their way to use some marginal browser when there better both proprietary and open source options available?

Why do people go out of their way to use a marginal operating system when there are better both proprietary and open source options available? Just to add another completely incompatible platform for developers to target? Or do they really like the gimmicky extras (like genie-animated minimizations)?

(Note: Not making fun of the Mac, which I use everyday. Making for of the parent poster for his narrow-minded view point)

Opera Mini has a proxy server it uses to compress data before it reaches your device. This is extremely useful when using mobile data because it's both faster and cheaper. (At least, in Australia, where mobile Internet is both slow and expensive)

The desktop browser has the same thing (under the term Opera Turbo). Really useful when you're on a bad connection.

> Why do people get out of their way to use some marginal browser when there better both proprietary and open source options available?

Integrated notes, integrated mail, clean interface. I've been using it since it was really early and while I can do similar things with other browsers I need a bunch of plugins to do so.

Automatic synchronisation of bookmarks and note across all my devices....

Going out of my way would be switching browsers when I'm happy with the one I've used since 2001.

I use Chrome for flash and video because its architecture grants it a good bonus in responsiveness, but that comes at a high cost in memory consumption. I also consider it unsuitable for general use because it's so painfully unconfigurable. I can't even have a vertical tab bar, so I'm always left guessing what tab's what by their favicon and the first word of their title - a pretty major deal breaker for me.

I sometimes give Firefox a go, and while I find the range and power of its extensions very attractive, it somehow always fails to quite click for me. I'm sure I could get used to it, but while Opera's giving me much the same functionality in what I consider a nicer package, and with more provided out of the box, why go out of my way to switch? You might as well ask why I still use vim when emacs is clearly so much "better".

Not sure what other alternatives you'd have me use. IE? Safari? Neither are realistic options to consider for obvious reasons.

I don't pay much attention to usernames, and yet I constantly see yours. Because virtually every post you make is totally non-constructive and unnecessary. Please stop. I am tired of reading absolute trash posts like that and thinking "gee, bet its coldtea again".


I've recently developed some (parts) of Android framework for my current employer (which is as of now unique to this OEM phones) and I am seriously looking for a job change for various reasons. Now if my new employer hires me for the same role and I am asked to do the same thing again(and I'll mention this work on my resume and interview), I'll do it. Otherwise, what am I gonna do? Make railway engines for them or rockets or weave yards of fabric?

You are right, its not very prudent to make comments on sth sub judice.

But, let's not forget what kind of a lawsuit we are talking about here. As far as I can see it's a court case where an former employer(contracted job offer, not permanent) wants the employee in question not to do the job he knows to do.

>Do you stop using Google products....

Well, honestly many people do. And if I am not again seeing demons (:P ) many people who moved to FastMail for the biggest reasons - "privacy, pure email as in firm's passion for good email service"[1] - may see sth in it and may not find suh an Opera(which owns FastMail) to be the kind of company they thought was [1]. Again this is a far fetched speculation but at least I'm giving serious thoughts to it :-) (and I do not use Opera).

Something like 99% of all large corporation middle management at their very best can do nothing apart from maintaining status quo. Come in, run affairs as usual and leave. This includes pretty much every one even at the (S)VP levels. This is why good folks are always the biggest asset and threat to the company.

The idea of these companies, is there must be no one to disturb this status quo. There are instances where companies have acquired start up's just to kill them. Its because they understand given their own inefficiency and inertia they can probably never compete with some one small, good and agile.

These sort of acts only prove that the company is bad at getting stuff done- It exposes what looks like frustration with their own selves for being bad, and they sure realize that their competitors are better than them in converting ideas to usable products.

They know they had a good guy on on board, they knew he was better than others in their own company. They now think they own him- They expect him to do whatever work they want, at whatever price they wish to pay him- No questions asked. Now how dare this guy go and do whatever he likes, or work where he wants, while they own him and he owes them lifelong service???

That is the attitude.

> if my new employer hires me for the same role and I am asked to do the same thing again(and I'll mention this work on my resume and interview), I'll do it. Otherwise, what am I gonna do? Make railway engines for them or rockets or weave yards of fabric?

There's a big difference between your old company and your new company both asking you to implement (for example) a unified search box, and your new company asking you if you can think of any clever new features they should implement and you suggesting the unified search box that you've been asked to build at your old company but which is not yet public information. The former is likely to be fine. The latter is fairly likely to be breaching your previous contract of employment.

I've no idea which end of the spectrum this particular case is closer to, which is why it's not a good idea to jump to conclusions before the details are out.

I doubt the latter case is not a breach of contract IMHO. The thing is, my job is not to implement a search box when I'm told to, but my job is also to tell my employer that a search box is needed when asked about s possible new feature - AAMOF I think the latter is more important part of my job.

An IP or a potential IP(applied or under process for application) is an entirely different thing. This specifically binds you legally not to discuss openly.

And I think even the idea of suggesting a "search box" can be a legal matter iff you had signed a specific contact/nda for that. Otherwise it's well within your general knowledge of your field of expertise for which you were hired in the first place. Ofcourse no one can stop legal trolling.

Jumping to conclusions is a byproduct of discussion. Nothing bad I see in them. As an intelligent species we often conclude based on known facts and (un)intelligent and educated guesses, and often are proved right and wrong. Some ending up in each side.

Not only that, but aren't the kind of things he's accused of stealing those that would be covered by fairly weak software patents? I don't think we're talking about him really using his insider knowledge of when they're planning to release a feature to beat them to market or scupper their PR.

I mean if it was just someone else copying their browser would they even be confident enough to take them to court?

I wouldn't worry to much. This is Norway, not the US, and our courts aren't quite as corruped-by-corporations, yet, as are yours. Do a little research on the DnB vs Røeggen case where the latter recently won a crushing victory in the Supreme Court, and ask yourself if there's any way that case could have been won in the US, against the largest US bank.

> many people who moved to FastMail for the biggest reasons - "privacy, pure email as in firm's passion for good email service"

And I guess all the internet connected services / devices they are using are equally "private and pure" - including their ISPs, their smartphones, their mobile service providers, online retailer they purchase things from.

I have stopped using Opera, in fact, I will now actively discourage it from being used by others.

Right, because justice tends to be a one-sided story. Let's be clear that all you are basing your opinion on is an abridged, single viewpoint account of events.

There is such a rush to bless this guys post and chastise opera in these comments it is astounding. I don't understand the complete disregard for a balanced consideration of the facts.

Unfortunately, justice is a one-sided story when large companies sue individuals or tiny companies at large corporate magnitudes. A defense alone can be financially devastating. Second, sadly, it's for "trade secrets" in the the world of software. Come on!

I (and again, this is personal, lest someone drag my former companies into this) stand by my statements, as long as this lawsuit exists.

If the basic facts themselves are wrong, then of course I will back off my statement. If Opera is not suing an individual for ~$3.4MM USD for divulging trade secrets, then great.

Just to be clear: you're standing by your statement that you don't need any more info to decide that Opera is in the wrong here. They're categorically in the wrong, as long as they are actually suing an individual for divulging trade secrets. There is literally no more information that would change your mind if you heard it.

I agree with you in principle, but I have to admit I'm not sure what justification Opera could have for this type of vendetta-esque suit.

Frankly, I'm surprised all around. Lawsuits in Norway are, by and large, less frivolous and for appreciably lower sums of money than in the US. I have no idea what they hope to gain from what is already a PR disaster, nor what court will entertain this suit.

> I'm not sure what justification Opera could have for this type of vendetta-esque suit.

The simplest justification there is: they think they're right. Is it so hard to conceive?

And until this thing goes to court, everybody should abstain from passing judgment on either party.

> The simplest justification there is: they think they're right. Is it so hard to conceive?

Actually, yes. Even if morally, then certainly not pragmatically.

> And until this thing goes to court, everybody should abstain from passing judgment on either party.

That doesn't make sense. Most suits settle out of court, after all. Should we wait to pass judgment every time a patent troll carpet bombs small businesses?

>And until this thing goes to court, everybody should abstain from passing judgment on either party.

Why? I won't abstain from passing judgement to the party I think is in the wrong even AFTER this goes to court.

I don't think court decisions are necessarily the truth, and that I should agree with them. I only care about facts to make my personal judgment. If what he says is true, then even if the guy is convinced, I will still believe he is in the right.

(Heck, I don't even find all laws to be ethical. Segregation was law too at some point, for example).

> I don't think court decisions are necessarily the truth, and that I should agree with them. I only care about facts to make my personal judgment.

Well, sure, but are you actually going to spend enough hours poring over the details in order to come to a reasonably well-informed personal opinion, compared with what a court will do? Courts are not perfect, but they're generally much better are sorting out the details than the media or random bloggers.

>Well, sure, but are you actually going to spend enough hours poring over the details in order to come to a reasonably well-informed personal opinion, compared with what a court will do? Courts are not perfect, but they're generally much better are sorting out the details than the media or random bloggers.

Not so sure. To continue the segregation example, for centuries (including today) courts have been shown time and again to be absolutely unfair in handing sentences to black people compared to white (even for the same exact crime). Or to rich people compared to poor (think O.J Simpson vs a homeless person accused of murder).

In this case of course we don't have that. But we do have another imbalance: the small guy versus a large company that can pay the best lawyers.

Plus, if one finds the very law someone is charged by unethical (e.g patent law), he doesn't even have to delve into the details of the matter to deem any sentencing unjust.

Please tell us what is so "balanced" about a large company suing an individual for millions of dollars.

Compared to...? An individual leaving a large company and giving our legitimate trade secrets to a competitor company potentially ruining revenues (and thus salaries) for thousands?

There are plenty of legitimate reasons for lawsuits from large corps to individuals. I have no idea if this is one of them. incidentally, that is why judges exist.

> legitimate trade secrets

How long do trade secrets legitimately last in your view?

There is room for people to have different views on this.

> that is why judges exist

The law is not equal when the parties have very different levels of resources. The existence of judges does not change this.

I'm sure coke thinks trade secrets are both quite important and last quite a while.

The quality of evidence tends to outweigh the quality of lawyer, assuming reasonable competence.

Maybe the bigger problem for Opera will be attracting talent. I'd think twice before working for a company that had a history of suing its employees.

maybe you should think about not spilling company trade secrets to competitors. I'm not trying do defend Opera, but if an (ex) employee ( be it contractor or not) revealed or used the same thing that he developed for my company while i was paying him , i would probably sue him too. Now ... in this case there are a lot of missing facts, but in the general case, when it's about a lot of money , i think any sane CEO would decide to sue.

I'm using Fastmail, so I'm essentially an Opera customer. I'll wait to see what comes of this lawsuit before deciding whether to continue with them.

(Annoyingly, I'd just changed over to Fastmail from Gmail. I hope Opera is in the right here otherwise I'll have to change again ...)

You can still do it, translate this blog post in Chinese and post it on Weibo. Opera Mobile is big in asia.

Or translate it into Russian. A lot of former Soviet bloc countries have high usage of Opera.

Really? This is quite news to me; I don't think many people are still stuck with feature phones on China Mobile, at least in the big cities.

IIRC the low-end smartphones made by ZTE/Huawei are quite popular.

Yes, but are they running opera mobile? My understanding was that it lost popularity when the government stopped allowing people to use it to jump the GFW.

http://www.techinasia.com/operas-mobile-browser-silently-con... - Millions of Monthly Unique Users in China and other Asian countries as per this article on 03/05/13

The linked article contains no real numbers on marketshare, just a million "hits" out of what...a billion? That would explain why I don't know any opera users.

Maybe they feel that if they sue enough people, they'll earn enough money to stay afloat for another year.

Hey Chris, good to know for any consulting companies (like the OP's) that okcupid/IAC might want to hire! It's nice that you're not so concerned about trade secrets!

  > Hey Chris, good to know for any consulting companies
  > (like the OP's) that okcupid/IAC might want to hire!
  > It's nice that you're not so concerned about trade secrets!
Snideness is unbecoming.

A more straightforward way to write your comment would be "Since you believe that the OP did not divulge trade secrets and are opposed to apparently frivolous legal action, you must not care about protecting your own trade secrets."

The problems with this position should be obvious.

Thanks! Actually, I'm happy to address this comment now that it got your positive rephrasing. But first I should add I no longer work at OkCupid, and even if I did, the company is far bigger than one person's opinion. What I'm stating on HN is my personal opinion, not OkC's.

Ok, I personally find this kind of lawsuit deplorable for 2 reasons:

(1) The world is better when people share ideas and don't try to claim ownership over them. If, while I worked at OkCupid, someone left my company and used "secrets" we held to start or improve a competitor, I would believe it was their right. And that I had failed to nurture their creativity or compensate them well enough.

(2) This is an individual being assaulted at a corporate magnitude.

I can assure you I'd never sue someone for stealing trade secrets. Whatever "trade secrets" means in software, anyway.

How about a contractor selling the okc source code tree to some Chinese "entrepreneur" who launches a copycat site in China that somehow gains 300M members within a year?

Just one extreme to make your statement look silly.

I'm pretty sure that's covered under copyright. The company owns the code.

A trade secret is... what?

If you have an idea and keep it secret, it is protected from some reverse engineering or industrial espionage as a trade secret.

Unlike a patent, if you competitor invents it independently, then it is no longer a trade secret. You are only protected against a restricted range of dodgy dealing, and then only if you took adequate security measures (employees under appropriate NDA, not obvious in your product, obfuscated if sourcecode, that sort of thing).

Some people say they are 'software patents done right'. Certainly they serve a different purpose.


That sounds reasonable, given that it's accurate.

It's also puts a bit more depth on Elon Musk's comments about not patenting technology developed within SpaceX[1], since the perceived patent infringers would laugh at any lawsuit and use the patents as a recipe (China, pseudo-state run companies therein, etc). They may not be patenting technology, but I bet there's quite a bit protected anyways as a trade secret.

[1]: http://www.businessinsider.com/elon-musk-patents-2012-11

Given the biggest "trade secret" on OkCupid is the matching algorithm and its laid out so that anyone who wanted to would be able to implement it, I bet he would be pretty excited to hear that 300M people in China found his idea awesome.

Also it would probably be faster to write a copy from scratch in rails than figure out the various dependencies for OKWS and SFSLite (unless that's really improved since I was there). :)

Please don't confuse copyright with trade secret.

Or for that matter, concept ideas to implementation details. I for one would consider a case different if a past coca cola employee would start his own suger flavored drink, vs copying the cola recipe.

That's not a trade secret. A trade secret would be for instance if the Google co-founders did not patent PageRank and kept secret the way the ranked search results in Google.

I wish I could read the comments here without thinking "wow, the quality of reddit really has declined a lot", and then realizing "holy shit, this is HN".

I hope he has checked this with a lawyer and that he is not giving his adversary ammunition. Good luck.

I am honestly surprised that Mozilla's legal counsel has not stepped in already to offer advice and guidance. (this post is something that such an intervention most likely would have stopped)

They probably are, just not directly to him, but to his lawyers.

At least, for the US-side lawyers (I'm presuming Mozilla's US lawyers are on this one) due to conflict-of-interest rules, they would not be able to step in to offer advice and guidance to him directly, because the representation would probably be adverse to Mozilla's interests.

The rule in most states (based on the ABA model rules) is " A concurrent conflict of interest exists if: (1) the representation of one client will be directly adverse to another client; or (2) there is a significant risk that the representation of one or more clients will be materially limited by the lawyer's responsibilities to another client , a former client or a third person or by a personal interest of the lawyer."

Even if you don't believe #1 applies, #2 definitely applies.

Norway may have different rules, but the local Mozilla lawyers are bound by their local state bars, where this rule (or some variant) would apply. I've avoided discussion of whether this conflict could be consented to by him, etc, as it varies from state state

This of course, only applies directly. They can and probably are talking with his lawyers, just not advising him directly.

It might also be a bit "adverse to Mozilla's interests" if they were less able to hire experienced developers in the future because they got a reputation of not sticking up for their current ones.

Note that it's a court in Norway, not USA, which makes a rather large difference.

What are some of the key differences?

For starters, Mozilla's lawyer has nothing to offer.

Wouldn't they have lawyers (plural)? I'd guess they also have access to lawyers who know the laws in other countries.

Maybe they have a lawyer on retainer in Norway, but I doubt it. I'm sure they'll get one, but it would be strange for a non-profit like Mozilla to have a worldwide legal staff.

Many large law Liam's know international law. I'd guess that a company like theirs with a strong international presence would be interested in that.

Even if they don't have someone handy who knows Norwegian law, they could easily retain them.

My point is that proper legal advice can not be what's preventing them from helping. My question to OP was about the differences in laws which he/she was referring to.

It is possible he wanted to get some of his side out before being potentially muzzled in a plea deal of some sort with an NDA. Definitely sounds like the post was run past a lawyer to vet it before being posted.

He is obviously concerned to keep his good name.

Assuming he can back up his narrative with facts in court, I cannot imagine Opera has a leg to stand on. If he followed up the conversation with the CEO with a clear email, then there is documentation in place. That the CEO hasn't responded should have no bearing, as an oral agreement is considered as binding as a contract in Norway.

This sounds like it was written by a lawyer, or at least run by one.

Wouldn't it be uncommon for a lawyer to allow him to say anything at all? As far as the lawyer's job is concerned, letting the client talk can never help, it can only hurt. I know this is the case for criminal cases, but I'm not sure if it applies to civil cases.

What do you mean "allow him"?

Lawyers do not make decisions (or at least, should not). We exist to assess risk, analyze liabilities, advise clients, and hopefully, present options and strategies to minimize risk while still accomplishing a given goal.

Any smart lawyer in this case knows part of him still being hirable is going to be not having his entire reputation destroyed. Depending on the accusations, "say nothing" may not be a necessary or even valid strategy. Additionally, the client is the one paying. If they strongly feel they want to defend themselves, your job as a lawyer is to try to make sure it does not legally jeopardize their case (or warn them if it will and they want to do it anyway).

In any case, note that civil cases in most countries are strongly pushed to settlements. This is one of the reasons for broad discovery in most places.

All of this said, lawsuits against employees like this are pretty darn rare. Having been involved in a number of these situations on the other side, usually they are just bluster, basically a warning that "if he works on something competitive, we will come after you", or a warning shot to stop poaching. An actual lawsuit is usually reserved for exec and above, which i don't think he was (Sorry if i'm misunderstanding the level/ladder distinctions Opera uses :P)

Lawsuits like this tend to only result when someone has really pissed someone else off, or plans on doing something one side sees as really damaging.

Again, the above is my experience in the US, Norway may be different.

Outside of the actual legal realm, there is always a hearts and minds war. People stop paying attention to this stuff very quickly. Whatever gets said in the first few days will be the narrative for a long time. After the first few hacker news posts, this will go away for a year or two, and then someone will win or lose. In the meantime, if he doesn't speak, everyone will think of him as "that guy that stole stuff from Opera". On the other hand, if he frames the narrative right, it becomes "Opera, that company that is going down the tubes because it has resorted to suing former consultants on baseless charges".

Since nobody really wants to go to court, or lose mindshare (In this case, it's very valuable to both sides for very different reasons), whoever frames the narrative best tends to extract the most favorable settlement terms, or at least, go into the suit with a better stance and ability to press claims harder.

In an actual trial of course, it won't make a lick of difference.

>What do you mean "allow him"? Lawyers do not make decisions (or at least, should not).

He means the obvious "strongly advise him not to do it", in effect stopping him saying anything.

You over-thought that response too much!

If strongly advising people not to do something stopped them from doing it, lawyers wouldn't have jobs :)

Even if that was an over thought response, and I'm not saying it was, I'm glad he did it. It was my favorite comment on this page. DannyBee! Thanks for the very well informed, clear, and interesting perspective.

What about the possibility (perhaps remote) that damaging the ex-employer's reputation (by disclosing what at least looks pretty vindictive) will bring it [ETA: the ex-employer] into a two-front war and make them less successful in the suit? I'm not a lawyer so I'm way out of my depth here, but is this something that could possibly work?

Edit: slippery pronoun

I don't see that being a problem, provided everything he wrote is simply a matter of fact. Perhaps I'm an optimist.

"Truth is an absolute defence against libel/slander," does not hold up under many jurisdictions in Europe. More like, "people with more money get to decide what the 'truth' is."

No, I meant to discuss the possibility that disclosure is good for OP, because he'd want his ex-employer to be in a two-front war.

I'll admit that I am no IP expert but I'm told that winning an IP suit is impossibly difficult and extremely expensive. To pursue it, you really better believe that you have a tremendous amount of upside (ie, deep pockets on the other side) and that you have a very strong case.

You might say that they are "just suing for $3.4 million" and that they might settle out of court, but I'd bet that unless Opera has a really strong in-house counsel in this area, this whole story will evaporate pretty soon. Usually things like this start out because one party is pissed-off and then once cooler heads prevail they realize it's just not worth it and move on.

Not sure what the laws are or where Opera is headquartered, though so IP laws may be vastly different.

They probably just want to tell their employees that sharing "trade secrets" won't be tolerated. Nothing better for that than a lawsuit with ridiculous amounts of money. It might fail but it sends a strong message.

Not that I don't despise this kind of practices...

Actually $3.4m is not that little in Norwegian court. Amounts paid out from lawsuits are a lot less compared to what is normal in the states.

Also the judges here have very little knowledge about IT so I agree that winning the case will be difficult for Opera. My previous company had a lawsuit against a competitor and lost largely due to the judge having no knowledge of IT.

Norway, and how different depends on what you're comparing with. Probably not too expensive for his means.

I don't think this is a regular IP suit. It's more like a breach of contract or something. Opera likely hadn't legally protected the features/designs that were stolen, which would be why the theft would be such a bad thing for them.

It's been a year since the video that triggered the lawsuit was published. I doubt that someone at Opera has been pissed off for a year and done this without thinking through it at all.

For somebody who doesn't want to talk about the case, he sure does talk about the case an awful lot!

I don't know the merit of the suit and from the sound of it I don't like their trade secret suit.

With that said, I think it's a very good strategy for Trond to go public with this. He is one person and the other party is a corporation. It will be a lopsided fight in the court. Even if he would win in court, it will have cost him dearly. This is what these kinds of suit about - intimidation. But by going public, he will be able to get public support and Opera is risking eroding their brand and good will. At the end of the day, a cold calculation on Opera's part to see how much branding they are losing due to the suit will convince them to drop it.

Might be because there's definitely an element of "the court of public opinion" for these two consumer product companies (and given Opera's stance, OP must feel some sense of loyalty/responsibility to defending Mozilla's name and public image)

edit: Correction by magclock. Mozilla (so far) isn't directly involved in the suit. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5629534

To the last point: Mozilla not being involved directly in public is not surprising (unless you hold Mozilla to a higher standard, which some folks do).

It's pretty typical that what happens is the corporation gives some initial advice, and tries to find you good counsel. They basically have to get out, because the corporate employment lawyer does not work for the employee, and there is usually a clear conflict of interest between representing both employee and corporation interests at the same time.

Since Mozilla was not sued here, Mozilla may pay for his defense (depending on factors), but direct intervention usually does not happen.

The rest goes to your "public opinion" element. Mozilla may publicly support him, of course, but in most cases, associating yourself with a lawsuit is often lose lose, even in cases where it appears to be defending a good guy (Imagine if today they support him, and tomorrow it turns out he was lying).

They may just be hoping their name doesn't get dragged through the mud here. I haven't seen any public release from Opera accusing Mozilla of bad behavior, but if Mozilla comes out and says something very supportive, Opera may just do that. My guess is staying out of it publicly seems the best way to accomplish that.

One consumer product company and one one-man consulting company. Mozilla is not a part of this, according to the articles.

Thanks for the correction; I've added the fix to my parent comment :)

Quite, but one of the reasons for not talking about a case is to not give the opposition any ammunition. It's best to just keep quiet until the case is over.

It'll be interesting to see how this plays out.

Right; it's definitely a fine line to walk. I'm not sure what is the 'correct' strategy either; we'll have to wait and see.

I think this is probably the best advice: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5629446

Exactly, and there might be arguments that he has made on this blog that might be used against him in the court of law. He may not have realized that, that is why they always recommend to shut up and let the lawyers talk when a case like this is going on.

In Norway, it's usual for employees to sign intellectual copyright waivers for all work done for their employers. If Trond developed parts of the CB browser and/or other intellectual property whilst working for Opera (during office hours), they could easily claim - and probably win - a case that parts and/or all of the CB browser rightfully belonged to Opera Software. I haven't read their lawsuit, I'm just saying that the case might be more complicated that one person's blog post.

There was an (in parts) similar case to this one in Norway about Nettby.no, the so-called "Fredrik Kristiansen vs Dagbladet" (Google it if you're interested).

> In Norway, it's usual for employees to sign intellectual copyright waivers for all work done for their employers.

Yes, but that does not seem to be what this is about. On the surface it seems he was re-using good ideas rather than copying over actual work.

The nettby case was about outright copying source code.

Re-using ideas/features he was paid for at Opera? Doesn't that make those Opera's property?

Only if the contract signed says so. There's usually a standard section in the contract for this sort of thing so it really depends on that.

pretty sad to here this from opera. i've been an avid opera user for the last 10 years. i haven't seen as much innovation in any other browser like ive seen in opera. from mouse gestures to tab grouping to the closed tabs list to a million other features that were first in opera and slowly migrated to all the other browsers. sure websites sometimes didn't render properly and no one ever cared to properly support it, but still they were always on the cutting edge feature wise.

although this doesn't change my stance on using opera, i hope this results in a ousting of the current ceo.

Why would the current CEO be ousted? Why are you mad at him instead of the guy who allegedly stole Opera's business secret and sold them to a competitor?

I find it interesting that Opera are trying to claw back revenue on old innovations while seemingly stagnating.

The rendering engine they're dumping in favour of WebKit is fast and slick. The number of new user visible features and the rate of releases has seemed sluggish to me for what must be 4 or 5 years.

That's part of why they're dropping Presto for Blink, I think. One of the blogs I read on it mentioned that a lot of time and money was going into keeping Presto up to date with what developers were doing (such as ignoring anything not webkit on mobile). Switching to Blink will give them more resources to pump into UX.

What old innovations are they trying to claw back revenue from? Wasn't the disputed object actually a fairly new innovation?

Now let's hear Opera's side of the story.

Their lawyer's (content-free) statement is in this article: http://thenextweb.com/insider/2013/04/29/opera-claims-former...

This is the wisest thing to do. We have no idea what's really happening and this blog post doesn't really tell much (and it shouldn't if he doesn't want to give too much information to his now enemies' layers).

Or better still, let the court hear both sides of the story and let them decide.

It's ironic that both the companies which are proponet of non-profit open source software are engaged in this battle. Opera's legal counsel need to reassess this case, I don't think they can get $3.4million from this guy, what is the point of going after him?

Opera has been for profit and proprietary from the get go.



edit: here is a good excerpt

"Up to this point, the Opera browser was trialware and had to be purchased after the trial period ended. But version 5.0 (released in 2000) saw the end of the trial period requirement. Instead, Opera became ad-sponsored, displaying advertisements to users without a license,[8] which was commonly criticized as a barrier to gaining market share. In newer versions, the user was allowed a choice of generic graphical banners or text-based targeted advertisements provided by Google based upon the page being viewed."

AFAIK, Opera is in no way a proponent of non-profit or open source software. They are a publicly traded for-profit company and their main product is proprietary.

Except that Opera has historically been one of the most significant proponents for open standards, the WHATWG, and opening the web to people without internet access. One should also not forget that Opera is now contributing, and have already landed several patches, to the Chromium and Blink projects.

Yes, but that's certainly a great position to take for a small for-profit selling a proprietary product designed to interpret content primarily written for other software.

Corel probably would have been thrilled to have Adobe make their formats completely open and "standardized" back in the day to reduce the friction of switching products.

Open Source vs Open Standards are two very different positions

Open source you want? Here you go https://github.com/operasoftware/dragonfly

Ok, thanks for the correction.

I'm just hoping that the suit doesn't extend its tentacles to either Mozilla's product(s) or its finances.

Opera employee here. Anon for obvious reasons XD

Didn't work there when Trond did so I can't speak to his moral standing, but there's been talk around the water cooler about the lawsuit.

Several people who worked with Trond in 2009-2010 (and even before 2006) are still here and the impression I'm getting is that they're annoyed with Trond for taking all the credit for the work and ignoring all the work they put into the stuff he later handed to Mozilla.

He pretends to be the lone innovator but the truth is he got plenty of help. He took a healthy paycheck from Opera and then turned around and handed the results over to Mozilla.

My 2¢: He's going to lose the lawsuit.

I am pretty sure that the negative PR that this lawsuit will bring more damaging to Opera than any trade secrets.

Probably that was the intention.

For Mozilla itself, other than possibly being painted in a somewhat negative light, do they have any chance of becoming the "co-defendant" in this suit? (They'll surely be called as a witness)

Time to uninstall Opera from my computer.

You and the guys who work at Xenforo can have a my old employer is suing me party. Curious, what idiot in management at Opera decided to MITM attack https traffic on mobile platform for "optimizations"?

Opera Mini can't render HTML (only OPML), so they have to make the SSL connection on your behalf from the server. This isn't exactly a MITM attack, and from what I remember last time I played with it, they even warn you of the implications the first time you try to view secure content.

Opera Mobile and Desktop never mess with SSL, period.

I think he meant to write "My company's former customer".

I hadn't thought of that. Not only do Opera's direct employees need to watch their steps - but contractors too. It's almost as if they want people to go in, collect their paychecks and offer up nothing above average.

Do Opera employees have to watch their steps to a greater degree than employees in other companies? I think that if you stole trade secrets from any other company and sold them to a competitor, they would sue you as well.

All you need to do to avoid being sued is to not sell trade secrets to competitors.

Well we'll see the outcome of this case, you can be sued if you didn't which may be the case here. I haven't heard of a software dev being sued like this before, so I would say Opera employees do have to watch their steps to a greater agree, given there's precedent.

That makes a big difference, he can be prevented from personal liability in that case and can declare bankruptcy.

Depends on a lot of things, really, like his company's structure and the relevant laws.

BoycottOpera.JS :-)

<script type="text/javascript">

  if (navigator.userAgent.indexOf('Opera') !== -1) {
    alert("Hello Opera User! I encourage you to uninstall Opera and use Mozilla Firefox instead. Click OK to learn why.");
    document.location = "http://trondblog.tumblr.com/post/49192504201/so-my-former-employer-opera-software-has-filed-a"

Opera, you are dead to me.

Yes, because what he wrote is the absolute truth? We have no idea if that is the case.

Well, we know that the suit exists: http://thenextweb.com/insider/2013/04/29/opera-claims-former...

And really, that's all that he says in that note.

Um... no, he also says that he didn't do it.

People are quickly jumping to conclusions here.

I think the site you were trying to open in your organic browser is called reddit.com, Sir. This way...

Do providers of other browsers that use tabs have some sort of licensing deal with Opera? Seems like they are suing over trade secrets based on Firefox tabs?

Why are they suing the guy and not Mozilla, why are there no lawsuits against other companies that provide browsers?

Feels like a FU-cause-we-can type of deal.

> Why are they suing the guy and not Mozilla, why are there no lawsuits against other companies that provide browsers?

Probably because this isn't about features that already exist, but about features that Opera was working on and hadn't even made public yet. And this guy sold them to Mozilla or something.

Opera never had problems with other browsers copying them once the features were actually out, but in this case Opera's secret features were sold to Mozilla before Opera even had a version of their own.

It is not based on normal tabs (which Opera was first to introduce to a browser). Well actually we don't know the specific yet but the blog post says "a Mozilla employee presents among others a feature named Search Tabs".

Honest question: How would Opera Software prove in court that Trond Hansen stole browser ideas/feature concepts (if I'm reading it correctly)? Subpoena Mozilla's emails? My gut says if this goes to court it will devolve into "he said/she said".

It seems pretty straightforward. Trond Hansen was apparently paid to do some consultancy design work for Opera. After accepting his paycheck and moving on, he decided to take the design(s) he made while at Opera, and give it to Mozilla.

This doesn't sound like a very clever thing to do. It sounds very illegal indeed.

Depends on the contract he signed, and where he signed it. For example, some contracts stipulate all work inside and outside of work hours belongs to the employer, most others don't.

As far as I know, the one making the accusations has to present proof. Am I wrong? Is it so simple that saying "Oh, by the way, I believe he stole my idea." is enough to sue someone?

No one would (Or "should" maybe) be so stupid as to go for that.

Nope, that's not how it works. You simply have to ALLEGE that the other party did something wrong via a lawsuit and then it's up to the courts to sort it out.

Intimidation lawsuits are easy to make happen as the cost of prosecution for a large company is small, where as the cost of defense for an individual is large. So all that has to happen is the big company makes legal arguments that will take the judge some time to catch on to and BLAM you've bankrupted (or worse) the defendant. Once he has no money, he's forced to settle. Intimidation lawsuit success!

That is enough to sue someone. It's not enough to win, but it's definitely enough to sue.

There's some logic behind that. To prove claims like that, you may need the power of the court to get documents or witness statements under oath. The process is know as discovery: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discovery_%28law%29

Unfortunately, it also means that the party being sued has to suddenly put up a bunch of cash to pay to defend the lawsuit. In situations where one side has a lot more money than the other, like when a corporation sues an individual, that can be ruinous. So it can be an effective method of bullying somebody.

> Unfortunately, it also means that the party being sued has to suddenly put up a bunch of cash to pay to defend the lawsuit.

In any decent legal system, you can get publicly funded lawyers if you are unable to pay for your own, and if you win, you get your costs back anyways.

For civil suits? Really? Which ones do that?

Regardless of the facts in this case, this screams to me that Opera is fucked, they know it, and will grab anything they can on the way down. What other conclusion could you possibly draw?

It just so happens that Opera announced the financial results for the 1st quarter today:


At the same time, they published a report on usage of their mobile browsers:


Record profits and revenues, and 20 million new users from February to March. Doesn't exactly look like a company in trouble to me.

But maybe you know something I don't.

> What other conclusion could you possibly draw?

Without facts? None. But if you want some speculation: Opera's interface is consistently listed as one of the preferred features for its users (if not the preferred feature). And now a guy just gives away for free what would have been their most valuable asset (assuming they were on the right, but again, apparently we don't like facts). They would be pretty incompetent at their job if they didn't sue the guy.

Just because something is a trade secret doesn't mean someone else can't think of it. That's the risk you run when you don't patent an idea.

This is probably a terrible idea to publish!

I would say the absolute worst thing he could have done was write this article. I'm sure his attorney will agree.

IANAL: So here's my advice: Get a lawyer.

You so naughty

So let me get this straight, Opera is suing you because they think you gave away secrets. It appears they have no hard evidence, no emails, no phone conversations, just someone talking about ideas. I would personally laugh at them and think about all of the money I would get when they lose.

Also Opera needs your millions so that they can continue to support a piece of software that no one uses. (Chrome FTW!)

That is a myopic statement. Get off the bro-horse for a second. Opera has a lot of users! Their software, while not oss is pretty damn good!

Whether Opera is being evil or not we don't know and can't know from one filed lawsuits, speculation, and public retort so stop jumping on the bandwagon.

Opera is definitely "evil" these days.

That's a subjective statement - I don't know enough to actually name them "evil" and I doubt you do too.

incredibly lame thing to do to former employees. if you can't innovate, sue!

The thing they can't agree about did not happen while this guy was an employee of Opera Software. He was offering his consulting services as a commercial company.

I'm also leaving Opera for good now.

Fuck Opera. Their software sucks. Now even more.

Actually Opera's software the one that sucks the least in the browser market. Sorry.

I've tried to get into Opera every year for over the past decade. While I admit that they introduced many innovative features, they could never get them "right" and their UI was always ugly and unpleasant to work with. If anything Opera should be suing this guy for that.

What of the UI? It's the most customizable UI in a browser. You have skins, themes, any element can be placed anywhere/hidden. What's the problem?

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