Morons In A Hurry Can Figure Out That There Are Different Facebook Mafia Games

from the kiss-of-death dept

Apparently, today's mobsters are intellectual property lawyers. Back in February, we wrote about a ridiculous lawsuit between the creator of an online game, Mob Wars, and the online creator of the game Mafia Wars, claiming copyright infringement. Of course, the whole claim was silly since the game itself is based on a rather common game concept that was around for ages before either of these games existed. Rather than fighting a silly court battle, why not actually compete on features? So now we've got a new battle, between Zynga (makers of Mafia Wars) and Playdom, the makers of yet another game, called Mobsters, with Zynga claiming trademark infringement due to the way Playdom is running ads for Mobsters.

But the details seem like this is an abuse of trademark law to harm a competitor rather than a legitimate complaint. Zynga's complaint is that Playdom put up an ad that read: "Like Mafia Wars? Click here to play Mobsters. Its [sic] got henchmen, mini games, message boards and sophisticated style." Zynga claims that this is somehow confusing because it doesn't include Playdom's name anywhere. However, it seems abundantly clear that the ad is for a different game and they're just targeting players of Zynga's game. That's not trademark infringement. That's targeted advertising. It's why Pepsi is allowed to run ads trying to get Coke drinkers to switch. You can use the name of your competitor in an ad.

What's especially disappointing is that some of Zynga's investors, such as Fred Wilson and Brad Feld, have long complained about misuses of intellectual property law to stop competition -- and now they're supporting a company that appears to be doing the same thing. It's a waste of money that should be going towards competing and making a better game, rather than worrying about what competitors are saying in their ads.
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Filed Under: ads, games, mafia wars, mobsters, social networking, trademark
Companies: playdom, zynga

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  1. icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), 24 Jun 2009 @ 10:49am

    Re: Grammar

    Note that the possessive of it is its - it's is the contraction for "it is". As rapidly as English is changing, that has not changed (yet)

    Huh? I was quoting directly from the filing (including the [sic]). So what you're claiming is my mistake is not my mistake. Furthermore, it should be "it's" which is also a contraction of "it has".

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