[More info] After months of legal battle between NCsoft and Bluehole Studio, the developer of TERA, the Korean court officially charged a group of ex-NCsoft staff working on Lineage III with leaking confidential information with regards to the project. In the statement, the Korea court recognize that NCsoft poured much funds and manpower into the development of Lineage III. NCsoft also took measures to make sure only the important project members get hold of all information, hence the group which leaked the information out us no doubt guilty of the said offense.
The court also reprimanded the group for “stealing” software codes of Lineage III from NCsoft, going to a rival company and storing the information in the computers there. In 2009, legal charges against part of the group were dismissed by the attorneys and they escaped jail terms. However, after an appeal, the higher courts mentioned that the appropriate punishments were laid out.
A former NCsoft staff, presumably the mysterious “ringleader” and product director who left first and asked the rest to join him, is sentenced to 18 months of jail time, with 2 years of suspended sentence. 1 of his former staff, the development team’s manager, is sentenced to 8 months of jail time, with 2 years of suspended sentence. 2 more staff are each fined 10,000,000 and 7,000,000 Korean Won.
There will be another high court case coming up soon, which is the one between NCsoft and Bluehole Studio. Note that the court case mentioned here is against the former employees, not the company which they joined. NCsoft is suing Bluehole Studio a massive 6,500,000,000 Korean Won for economic losses. Bluehole Studio has been ordered by the court to pay NCsoft 2,000,000,000 Korean Won so far, which was later debunked. For more information about this case, please click here.
Update: A timeline of what happened over the past few years with regards to the case.
2006 September: Leak first occurred when the NCsoft executive told a Japanese gaming company about the details of NCsoft’s business plans, including Lineage III. The Japanese company did nt invest in the game, but a separate wealthy individual investor did.
2007 February: NCsoft first alerted the Korean police about the business leak
2008 August: NCsoft filed a civil suit in Korea.
2008 December: NCsoft formerly filed a claim against the executive involved
2009 June: 5 people were found guilty of leaking NCsoft secrets in the first criminal court, with 1 found innocent.
2009 December: After another criminal court session, the final accused was found to be guilty instead.
2010 January: Civil court ordered 4 of the accused and Bluehole Studio to pay NCsoft 2,000,000,000 Korean Won for losses.
2011 January: Civil court dismissed previous ruling, stating Bluehole Studio will not need to pay for the damages.
2012 April: Criminal court found all accused guilty, with a final verdict due from the civil court.