Opera Sues Its Ex-Employee For $3.4 Million

By | April 29, 2013

Opera Sues Its Ex-Employee For $3.4 MillionClaims he took trade secrets to Mozilla.

Now here is a new drama for you. Apparently, Opera Software is suing one of its visionary ex-employees, Trond Werner Hansen, who joined the company in 1999 and worked till 2006, then left shortly after only to join for another year from 2009 to 2010.

Why visionary? According to the claims, he was behind a lot of innovations that everyone loves, including tabbed browsing, speed dial, mouse gesture and integrated search.

T. W. Hansen later took a job at Mozilla to design and develop the iPad web browser called Junior, which was first revealed back in June, 2012 (as seen in the video below).

So what is the fuss all about? Turns out, in the same video Hansen talked about and demonstrated a number of features that Opera was working for quite some time and is yet to implement.

While details remain vague, Opera’s lawyers issued the following statement:

This dispute is pending before the courts, and due to the pending court hearing that will take place late august, Opera chooses not to comment on the case in detail.

Hansen is a former employee and consultant of Opera Software ASA. Opera Software ASA is of the opinion that Hansen, after he left Opera, has acted contrary to his contractual and other legal obligations towards Opera, among other things, the duty of loyalty and his contractual and statutory confidentiality obligations.

Opera Software ASA is an innovative company which has developed software and technology which have proved to be successful internationally. It is only natural that Opera Software ASA acts on any violations in order to protect its interests.

Then fun has just begun. Although for us, the most shocking piece is this: Hansen left in 2010 and in 2012 Opera was yet to finished implementing these “mysterious” features that the lawsuit is all about. Talk about slow no progress.

[Thanks, Shane]

About (Author Profile)

Vygantas is a former web designer whose projects are used by companies such as AMD, NVIDIA and departed Westood Studios. Being passionate about software, Vygantas began his journalism career back in 2007 when he founded FavBrowser.com. Having said that, he is also an adrenaline junkie who enjoys good books, fitness activities and Forex trading.

Comments (20)

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  1. Žilvinas Urbonas says:

    Pathetic Opera. :)

    • jayjam says:

      For taking action against a consultant who sold Opera’s technology to a competitor?

      • ownedjayjam says:

        Yes. Owned.

      • TabletUser says:

        No. For taking action against the man that actually designed Opera’s awesome GUI on desktop instead of making him head honcho over the horrible Opera versions for Android.

        Trust me, I know what I’m talking about; I’m a huge Opera fan. I’ve been using it for years. I doubt I will ever ditch the desktop version for any other browser unless something catastrophic were to happen.
        I also used Opera Mobile for Android for a lot of time on my tablet until I just couldn’t take it anymore. That piece of software is a disgrace. It can’t be used in a decent way on a tablet. So, I switched to the best one I could find: Sleipnir Mobile for Android.

        Then, thankfully, Opera released a demo of Opera Ice, which looks more like a tablet browser, but still less usable than Mozilla Junior even at first glance as seen in some crappy demo videos (the position of the search text field is one aspect that strikes me). And I was full of hope, obviously.

        So, what did they do next?!
        They released the half-assed Opera for Android, which was horrible at launch and full of bugs, and just plain not interesting last time I checked. Oh, and it’s not available for tablets; only phones.

        With no other famous browser brand (Firefox, Chrome, Dolphin, they all suck) building a decent browser for tablets, I am really looking forward to this Junior thing.

        Until then, I’ll just stick to my slightly buggy, search-restricted, but USABLE Sleipnir browser.

        So, no, not for taking action against a rogue traitorous consultant.
        No. For taking action against the man that actually designed Opera’s awesome GUI on desktop instead of making him head honcho over the horrible Opera versions for Android.

        • TabletUser says:

          I must mention a minor detail I overlooked.
          Before discovering Sleipnir by accident, I was so disappointed by the state of the mobile browser for tablets that I had actually started writing one.
          It would have been lame compared to Mozilla Junior or Opera Ice or Sleipnir, with no options for non-essential but quite useful stuff (at least for quite some time), but more usable for basic browsing than all the rest, for sure.

        • jayjam says:

          How is it relevant what he designed in the past if he stabbed Opera in the back and stole trade secrets and sold them to a competitor?

          The guy left Opera in 2006, while the UI has undergone major changes since then. How can he be in charge of a UI that was made in his absence?

          Opera for Android was launched? If you are referring to the new one, isn’t it just a beta?

          • TabletUser says:

            1. Read the article before commenting on it!
            He left in 2010
            And he didn’t stab anyone in the back. Opera just did not want to work with him anymore for whatever reasons so he left. Where do you think he could have gone after leaving Opera?! McDonald’s?!?!
            What is wrong with you?!

            2. He didn’t steal anything, since those are his ideas. He is just that good at what he does.
            It’s like accusing Messi he stole his football skills from wherever he played before Barcelona.

            3. Read my comment before commenting on it!
            Opera for Android is half-assed compared to Opera Ice.
            That means it can be in pre-alpha and it still would not be even remotely close to what Opera Ice looked like in the demo even after it comes out of beta.
            By the way, you do realize that there is no such thing as a beta for all the people. If it’s for all the people it’s not a beta anymore. It’s a released, final version. The beta tag is just for trolls like you so they have something to troll about despite never using the damn thing.

            No more trolling around with you, whatever stupidities you might concoct next, because it’s pointless.
            This is my last response to you.

          • jayjam says:

            1. He didn’t backstab Opera by leaving (or being fired), but by stealing trade secrets from Opera and selling them to a competitor.

            2. He was paid to do work for Opera. When you are paid to do work, the work belongs to the guy who paid you. It’s got nothing to do with skills, as this has to do with specific things Opera claims ownership of which he sold to someone else.

            3. Opera for Android looks like a regular mobile browser. Are all regular mobile browsers half-assed compared to Opera Ice? Or are you so confused you think Opera for Android is supposed to be Opera Ice? Opera Ice was described as a research project.

            I know why you say you won’t respond to me. It’s because you don’t have any valid responses.

        • lol says:

          Opera mobile have an option to hide top and bottom bar , so, i disagree, i use it and when the top and bottom bars hide, I have the whole screen to enjoy web-browsing. ANd its faster and uses less resources than opera ice

    • Terrorist From The Hell says:



    So Firefox is the “New and Innovative” browser king now? alright i’ll take that since opera is failing and doesnt innovate since v11(tab stacking is the last innovation by them)

    and also fail to deliver that disaster release last year with v12 with tons of bugs HWA+WebGL

    cant tell with Blink though its either massive fail or huge success release chrome clone.

  3. steve5 says:

    Here is an interesting perspective to consider: What if an employee left Apple during the years they were developing the original iphone and presented what they learned to a competitor in a similar fashion to this? Would the same commentary be said of Apple, considering Apple takes their time to make sure everything is good and aren’t fast in churning out stuff?

    No judgment either way whatever your opinion. As long as consistency remains. And by “you”, I mean for everyone to consider including myself. I’m actually the worst of you all. Not really consistent.

    By no means am I saying Opera is like Apple. Not at all. I have absolutely no idea which side is right or wrong. I really don’t, nor am I implying anything. Just throwing a perspective. Do what you will with it.

    Having said that, if Opera was just sitting on their butt regarding these features with no real reason, shame and good for them.

    • Rafael says:

      Apple use patents to sue everybody and your mom and your dog, Opera is claiming an ex-employee breached his NDA.

  4. Robin Hood says:

    Douchebag Opera finally sue somebody for copying their features…

    Its own former employee.

    • Maxim says:

      So it’s fine for Apple to do the this, but for Opera its a no no?

    • jayjam says:

      He wasn’t sued as a former employee. The reason he was sued was that after working for Opera as a contractor, he stole trade secrets and sold them to Mozilla. That he used to be an employee doesn’t seem very relevant at all.

      Is it OK for someone to steal trade secrets and sell them to a competitor?

    • hehe says:

      You do not know how to troll buddy.

  5. Mehran says:

    It’s not about HTML5 Forms innovations of Opera for sure! :v