Zynga Becoming A Trademark Bully: Threatens Blingville For Daring To Use 'ville'

from the get-over-it dept

Zynga is really building up quite a reputation as a trademark bully lately. The company, which also has a reputation for copying everyone else, got into a legal fight last year after it copied the name of its game Mafia Wars, from another company who had that. The two companies had come to an agreement earlier, which Zynga simply decided to ignore. And now it’s stretching its trademark bullying in more ridiculous ways, claiming that no one else can append “ville” to any social media game. It sent a cease & desist to the company that runs Blingville (which has had the domain for many years). Eric Goldman alerts us to the news that the company behind Blingville, has hit back by filing a lawsuit against Zynga (full filing embedded below) asking the court to declare that Blingville doesn’t infringe on any Zynga trademark. What I really don’t understand is why Zynga is acting this way. It has no reason to be a trademark bully, and doing so only makes the company look petty.

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Companies: blingville, zynga

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Comments on “Zynga Becoming A Trademark Bully: Threatens Blingville For Daring To Use 'ville'”

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Anonymous Coward says:

While you may not like the implications, Zynga does has a pretty solid standing here. Their products are well known as “‘ville” products on facebook and on their sites. Someone putting up a competing product as a Facebook app called “something ville” would likely create confusion in the market place, at least in the short term.

It doesn’t pass the old “moron in a hurry” test, as plenty of morons would think that blingville is a new game from those farmville guys.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Well, it depends on how you slice it. A trademark applies to what it applies to. In this case, Farmville and it’s ilk are basically “online social gaming”. They aren’t comedy websites (say comedyville as name, not real) and they aren’t aren’t a town (so no problems with Fayetteville, example).

However, in the narrow market of facebook related social games, “ville” games are known to be Zynga games. Someone coming along and opening another “somethingville” social game on facebook is standing very, very close to an existing trademark (and in fact, an existing series of trademarks). It is pretty easy to make the argument that the new company is attempting to play off of the goodwill created by Zynga with their various “ville” games, and thus while they don’t have specifically that name trademarked, there is a clear case for confusion in the marketplace.

That’s why there is a Mr Clean,and no Mrs Clean, because the confusion in the market place would be easy to spot.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

That’s what I’m saying, your slicing the markets too small. You’re trying to say that Blingville flash based web game is in a different market from Farmville flash based facebook social game. They’re not, they’re both just games.

I guess before I continue with this argument I should probably ask this: What was Blingville in 2004? Was it a web game or was it just a squatters page? There’s no information about what was before. If they were a flash based game that decided to move to Facebook, then there’s no trademark issue here. If they were a website that sold car parts then recently decided to make a game, then it may be a problem (facebook relationship not required), if we assume that you can trademark *ville.

Cougrrr (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

You say that like Zynga invented “ville” as a suffix, though. How can they honestly try to hold claim to exclusivity on a TM that is a suffix used in many parts of the world?

FarmVille (CityVille, etc.) REPRESENT groups of users acting together to create a “village” atmosphere, hence the ville. As such, they’re trying to trademark what… a village?

You wouldn’t say that Nashville, Knoxville, Louisville, and so on have the rights to sue Zynga for digital representations of cities even though they used the names WELL BEFORE 2004. What about papers that wrote about Hoovervilles in the great depression? You wouldn’t say that they should be able to sue Zynga.

They have the TM to their game names, sure, but the suffix they use is a common Latin derived suffix that has been used the world over. Suing based on that is just plain stupid.

wnyght (profile) says:

From a company stand point of comparing apples to oranges… who cares if some other company has an orange that they painted red and happens to look like your apple?

This reminds me of that whole IHOP thing when the restaurant chain was pissed at the “international house of prayer.”

I mean really, who cares? I really don’t see what difference it makes.

Pete Austin says:

Site is just an advert for a Facebook game

Re: when I go to their site (existing since 2004!), all I see is a logo and “New Facebook Game Coming Soon!”

I see the same, and the only links are to Facebook. Also it seems the page previously said “Blingville, Coming 2010”, since last April.

Is there any evidence this was ever a real, functioning site?

Just saying says:


Who cares if they have anything to do with Facebook or not. That shouldn’t matter. Ville is not a word that can be owned by someone and it is total arrogance on the part of Zynga to think that they can own it.

Its time that Zynga started to operate with integrity, not only Blingville but with Mafia Wars and others too. Why do they think they need to stoop to these underhanded tactics to keep there game going? It just isn’t necessary or appreciated by those of us who use their games.

page howe (user link) says:

zynga had a choice

when they chose ville as their suffux there were already existing sites and games with that address, they had a choice and when they made that choice they had to realize that the ville suffix wasnt going to be their exclusively

myopic right isnt always worldwide right

if their logic holds tru than any other game started before their company actually becomes the bigger fish and can sue them for all that are or acquire

person that thinks zynga is out of their minds says:

zynga doesnt own the right of ville there are many more games with the ending of ville and zynga has done no such thing to them bakra ville has never had any conttac to zynga and its just messed up zynga would do this its just an ending its not like their taking the name farmville and making a new one zynga has to go somewhere

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