Zynga’s counsel has been busy as of late. While Zynga has been filing and receiving multiple IP-related lawsuits in recent months, the company has recently filed several new trademark infringement lawsuits against those copying marks found in its top games.
The first of the two suits was filed on July 1st against Philip Labrasca for both the stated infringement and violation of Terms of Service for the top Zynga game, Texas Hold’Em Poker. According the case (Zynga Game Network, Inc. v. Labrasca), the defendant owns and operates 13 different websites that make use of the “ZYNGA” trademark to sell virtual poker chips. The very next day, a second lawsuit was filed against Duc Doan for the same allegations (Zynga Game Network, Inc. v. Doan).
Zynga also filed a couple of other suits earlier in June.
The first, Zynga Game Network, Inc. v. John Does 1-5 was filed on June 2nd. Then, on June 19th, Zynga Game Network, Inc. v. John Does 1-50 was filed (the term “John Does” means the domain names in question registered “using the Domain by Proxy privacy protection service, preventing Zynga from accessing the name and contact information Defendants used to register the domain names”).
Each of these cases have similar claims. The first five claims below can be found in all four lawsuits (the last two are not charged in John Does 1-5):
- Trademark Infringement – False Designation of Origin Regarding the Mark: The complaint alleges that consumers may be confused or misled into thinking a connection exists between Zynga and the defendants by the defendants’ use of the ZYNGA mark.
- Trademark Infringement – Federal Cybersquatting Regarding the Mark: The complaint alleges that the defendants registered domain names with the bad faith intent to profit from use of the ZYNGA mark.
- California Statutory Unfair Competition: The complaint alleges that by using the ZYNGA mark and selling the virtual chips required for the game the defendants are attempting to trade on Zynga’s goodwill and have gained an unfair advantage.
- Common Law Trademark Infringement of the Mark: The complaint alleges that the defendants’ use of the ZYNGA mark causes confusion or deception as to the source of, and authorization for, the defendants’ products in violation of California common law.
- California Common Law Passing Off and Unfair Competition: Zynga is seeking punitive damages for the defendants’ allegedly intentional and malicious actions which Zynga says resulted in an unfair advantage.
- Breach of Contract: Zynga claims the defendants agreed to be bound by the game’s Terms of Service by participating in the poker game. “By selling ‘chips’ for use in the Game through the Infringing Websites, and by using the Game itself to transfer the ‘chips’ they sell, Defendants have breached the Terms of Service, which specifically prohibit Game users from exchanging ‘chips’ “for ‘real-world’ money or otherwise exchange items for value outside of the Game.”
- Intentional Interference with Contractual Relations: Zynga alleges that the defendants intentionally acted to induce consumers to breach their contracts with Zynga by selling chips without authorization at a lower price than Zynga offered and by distributing the chips in a manner prohibited by the Terms of Service.
Suffice to say, Zynga is out with a vengeance when it comes to others infringing upon their intellectual property. It’s certainly an interesting time in the space, as a multitude IP-related issues remain far from settled. We’re sure to see many more in the industry in the weeks and months ahead.[via Patent Arcade]