Looks Like There May Be More Trademark Fights About Mafia Wars Than There Were Actual Mafia Wars
from the going-to-the-mattresses dept
And now it continues with yet another player. Eric Goldman points us to the news that game maker Digital Chocolate is now suing Zynga for trademark infringement over the name "Mafia Wars," noting that it has actually offered a game called Mafia Wars itself since 2004:
Digital Chocolate has repeatedly objected to Zynga's ongoing use of the MAFIA WARS mark, but despite Digital Chocolate's notices and demands, Zynga has persisted in offering its game under the MAFIA WARS mark. Although in May 2009 Zynga expressly assured Digital Chocolate, in writing, that "Zynga does not claim trademark rights in MAFIA WARS," just two months later Zynga filed an application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office ("USPTO") seeking to register MAFIA WARS as its trademark. Despite being on notice of Digital Chocolate's senior rights and infringement claim, Zynga repeatedly misrepresented to the USPTO that no other entity owned or claimed rights in the MAFIA WARS mark.The complaint certainly doesn't make Zynga look good, though the company has always had a really nasty reputation when it comes to its business practices. Still, it's really amazing how many legal fights there can be over a game like Mafia Wars, with such a generic name, and based on a concept that was around in other games for ages. Either way, given the pretty clear evidence that Digital Chocolate was first in this market, and Zynga's questionable statements claiming that it was first, I'd be surprised if Zynga doesn't end up handing over a large check to Digital Chocolate at some point soon. Considering that (unlike the other disputes), Digital Chocolate clearly was using the identical name, and offering a similar game, this seems like one trademark dispute that actually does involve a legitimate "likelihood of confusion."
Through duplicity and bad faith, Zynga has effectively hijacked the MAFIA WARS mark from Digital Chocolate and is aggressively marketing its games under the MAFIA WARS mark to Digital Chocolate's substantial detriment. To protect its intellectual property rights and prevent Zynga from benefitting from its wrongful conduct, Digital Chocolate has initiated this action.