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Australia Adelaide content creators allege software company Mighty Kingdom stole intellectual property

03:46  11 february  2021
03:46  11 february  2021 Source:   abc.net.au

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Two content creators allege an SA software development company stole intellectual property . The company , Mighty Kingdom , refutes the allegations . The claims were made in a parliamentary select committee hearing on wage theft. " Mighty Kingdom falsely claimed control of my intellectual property to gain financial benefit in the form of a 0,000 taxpayer-funded grant," Mr Daley claimed. In February 2018, Mighty Kingdom received 0,000 from the former Labor government's 'Future Jobs Fund' to complete the Kitty Keeper mobile phone game, which was to be targeted at the "pet parent"

Adelaide content creators allege software company stole intellectual property . By Stacey Lee and Candice Prosser. Over 147 million US citizens were affected in the breach, when hackers stole names, addresses and intellectual property out of Equifax databases. Posted TueTuesday 11 FebFebruary 2020 at 12:15amTueTuesday 11 FebFebruary 2020 at 12:15am. Duration: 45 seconds45s.

a man sitting on the keyboard of a laptop computer: The allegations of intellectual property theft were made in relation to two video games. (ABC News) © Provided by ABC NEWS The allegations of intellectual property theft were made in relation to two video games. (ABC News)

Two Adelaide-based digital content creators have told a parliamentary select committee about the alleged theft of their intellectual property by Adelaide software company Mighty Kingdom.

The men gave evidence to a select committee on wage theft on Wednesday.

Justin Daley claimed a video game he developed was used to assist Mighty Kingdom to obtain a substantial State Government grant.

Mr Daley said the game "Kitty Keeper", which was widely predicted to become an international success, was his creation and his intellectual property, and that Mighty Kingdom acted "deceptively".

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Adelaide content creators allege software company Mighty Kingdom stole Adelaide content creators allege software company Mighty Kingdom stole intellectual property . Albo proposes minimum wage and leave entitlements for gig economy workers: What would it mean for Concern over clinical trial seeking potential solution to domestic violence, as victims, advocates.

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"Mighty Kingdom falsely claimed control of my intellectual property to gain financial benefit in the form of a $480,000 taxpayer-funded grant," Mr Daley claimed.

In February 2018, Mighty Kingdom received $480,000 from the former Labor government's 'Future Jobs Fund' to complete the Kitty Keeper mobile phone game, which was to be targeted at the "pet parent" market.

"I engaged Mighty Kingdom in early 2017 to build my company, a mobile game called Kitty Keeper," Mr Daley told the committee.

"In the grant conditions it states Mighty Kingdom warrants that they control all the IP — intellectual property — in the Kitty Keeper game. This is false.

"Mighty Kingdom then went on to act deceptively and dishonestly toward me regarding the game for the next two years before they deleted the game in 2020."

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Mighty Kingdom hereby expressly disclaims all warranties of any kind, expressed or implied, including, but not limited to, warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, or non-infringement. Mighty Kingdom and its licensors (as applicable) own all intellectual property (including copyrights, trademarks, and all other proprietary rights) in and to the Services and games made available by us (including, but not limited to, any updates, enhancements and new features and all content , software , services, text, graphics, and logos).

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Mr Daley said he had raised his concerns with the Department for Innovation and Skills and the relevant minister, David Pisoni, but that the matter "was ignored and dismissed without any interest".

Mr Daley told the committee he requested the original grant application through Freedom of Information laws, but was knocked back because it was "with Treasury".

"I believe there is no original grant application for the Kitty Keeper game and if there is, I would be very interested to see how Mighty Kingdom pitch their ownership of the IP around that, because they did not own the IP," he said.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the company said Mighty Kingdom "fully complied with its obligations under the contract arrangements with the South Australian Government, cooperating fully, including ongoing and regular reporting regarding the grant".

"In relation to the removal of the Kitty Keeper game from the App Store and [Google] Play Store, this was a result of the game not meeting performance benchmarks set out in the contract," the spokesperson said.

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Such violations -- from counterfeiting famous brands and stealing trade secrets to pressuring companies to share technology with local companies to gain access to China’s vast market -- have long angered China’s overseas competitors. It refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions, literary and artistic works, and designs, symbols, names and images used in commerce, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization. IP is protected in law by patents, copyright and trademarks, enabling people to earn recognition or financial benefit from what they invent or create .

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A State Government spokesperson said Innovation Minister David Pisoni had referred Mr Daley's concerns to the department for investigation.

"That investigation concluded all aspects of the contract had been complied with and no further action was required."

Labor's Kyam Maher, who was the Minister for Innovation when the grant was awarded to Mighty Kingdom, said concerns about intellectual theft should be referred to the courts.

Second content creator raises concerns

Another game creator, Shannon Cross, told the committee he was stripped of any power relating to his game "Dungeon Chop Chop" and ultimately shut out of the project before his employment was terminated.

"I was given the label of creative director, but I had zero power to create directively (sic), I was stripped of my power really," Mr Cross told the hearing.

He said he felt people, like himself, were in a vulnerable position when it came to intellectual property and exploitation by big companies.

"It feels like sort of a grey area that's easily exploitable, especially when it comes to people like myself who have little experience," Mr Cross said.

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"I'm a creative, I love creating things, that's what I got into this for.

"So, when I rock up with this great idea, but I'm naive to the legalities of it, they see this as a great opportunity for them to benefit from it."

In a statement, Mighty Kingdom disputed the claims.

"The company is widely recognised as having some of the best employment conditions in the country and has a strong track record of retaining and promoting staff," the statement said.

"While the claims made by Shannon are false, we are willing to continue to work with Shannon to resolve his concerns."

The company said his contract was terminated when clauses of his employment contract came into effect.

Company says grant process is 'airtight'

Dan Thorsland, former general manager of Mighty Kingdom, told the ABC the grant application process was "airtight", and the company had always acted ethically.

"We put our best and brightest, an exceptional production team, on that product to make sure it succeeded," Mr Thorsland said.

"It's a very well-regarded company … if anyone bothered to go down there and talk to staff and say, 'Do you feel respected and supported in your workplace?' they would point to their unlimited annual leave, their four-day work weeks, the support they get for mental health and everything else, the fact their super is paid.

"It's a very, very good company and I certainly take umbrage at anyone saying otherwise.

"Not every relationship satisfies both parties, that's just part of business."

Mr Thorsland left the company at the end of 2019 to take on a different role and said although he no longer had any material interest in the company, he was confident about its integrity.

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