Zynga hit with preemptive lawsuit over 'ville' suffix

Houston developer Night Owl Games is seeking declaratory judgement that the name "Dungeonville" does not infringe Farmville publisher's trademarks.

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A Houston-based game developer has filed a preemptive lawsuit with the Texas district court seeking declaratory judgement that a proposed trademark for the name "Dungeonville" does not infringe Zynga's own trademarks that use the "ville" suffix, such as Facebook social games Farmville and Petville.

According to Texas district court documents, Night Owl Games filed a trademark for the name "Dungeonville" on February 10, 2011, with the US Trademark and Patent Office. The name features in the developer's social network game Dungeon Overlord as a playable level.

Zynga says it owns all instances of the word "ville."

On July 19, 2011, Zynga requested and was granted an extension of time from the US Trademark and Patent Office to oppose Night Owl Games' trademark. It also contacted the developer to say that the name "Dungeonville" has similarities to Zynga's trademarks and that the company wished to resolve the dispute without filing an opposition to the US Trademark and Patent Office.

After phone calls between the two companies' legal counsels, Zynga asked Night Owl Games to withdraw its patent application for "Dungeonville," claiming that "all uses and trademarks ending in 'ville' infringe on Zynga's marks."

After disagreeing with Zynga's position, Night Owl Games filed for a declaratory judgement, asking the Texas district court to declare that the company's use of "Dungeonville" does not constitute a trademark infringement and that Zynga be ordered to pay the company's court fees and costs.

According to local media reports, a hearing is likely to be scheduled within the next 30 days.

In 2010, Zynga reported revenues of more than $597 million, with a current cumulative user base of 232 million active players a month. In April, Zynga hired EA's COO John Schappert. Earlier this year, the social gaming giant went public, filing for an initial public offering of stock in the company with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Discussion

69 comments
GamerYnoX
GamerYnoX

Actually there is a game called Zombieville not made by Zynga. Zynga can't own "all instances of the word ville" thats just stupid. I'm guessing if all words become patented you shall not speak or you get a lawsuit

chinchillables2
chinchillables2

Zynga needs to be sued for spam. They are annoying as hell.

humbertp11
humbertp11

If Zynga owns the ville suffix, then they should get started on lawsuits for cities like Greenville, Farmville (yes, there is a town called Farmville), and Huntersville, and that's just in North Carolina!

decoy1978
decoy1978

I read a similar article where a man who owns a vegetable company had a similar slogan to Chik-Fil-A and THAT company is trying to sue them for breach of trademark. Just as funny as Donald Trump trying to trademark "You're Fired!" I'm all for trademarking important stuff like IP and designs. But words are just going overboard.

-Saigo-
-Saigo-

The stupidity just needs to stop and people need to realize they can't own vague terms like scrolls or ville. What happened to the days where people actually worked for their money instead of trying to steal it from everyone else?

PayneKiller
PayneKiller

Soon enough baby names will be patented by big companies too.

deathTHEkidd
deathTHEkidd

@Too-DementeD If its just a level why they trying to patent it? First am hearing of a developer patenting a level. Looks very suspicious to me.

Wormkid_64
Wormkid_64

@kkxtrouble There's a place called Farmersville in Illinois. Sniff sniff. I smell a lawsuit!

punkpunker
punkpunker

wow. dungeonville sounds more idiotic the farmville

Too-DementeD
Too-DementeD

@deathTHEkidd It's not the name of the game itself. ''The name features in the developer's social network game Dungeon Overlord as a playable level. ''

Pyro978
Pyro978

With the precedence that Zynga wants to set it almost opens the door for lawsuits where Microsoft can sue the guys that make like OpenOffice or any kind of word processor suite with the word "Office" in the title.

packtop
packtop

@iluvOP you have way to many peoples who don't know what real games is and are playing facebook games -_- That's the sad truth.

deathTHEkidd
deathTHEkidd

Am with Zynga on this one, this game can easily mislead consumers that it was developed by Zynga. If someone just told me the name of the game, i would think it was developed by Zynga.

DawnBlue
DawnBlue

Can I trademark the word "mark" so that nobody can trademark anything anymore?

iluvOP
iluvOP

Thats just silly, Also who plays those stupid facebook games anyways.

DawnBlue
DawnBlue

Odd... this kind of sounds like that "The Elder Scrolls" and "Scrolls" thingy all over again... Anyhow, anyone else played Super Smash Bros. Brawl? There's a stage called "Smashville" there...

VillNess
VillNess

Heh... Kinda weird to read these comments and this article as my name is Ville :D I wonder will Zynga not just stop at suffix's but sue everything that has "Ville"? If ye... Me and _few_ thousand of my namesakes are gonna have some hard time :D

91210user
91210user

The whole point of a trademark is a word or phase so popular that no one else uses it to the point when a company makes money. Donald Trump tried to trademark the term 'You're fired' but never succeeded! How on earth did 'ville' get trademarked or even considered by Zynga in the first place?

Rocker6
Rocker6

These lawsuits are getting more and more ridiculous with every year.I hate all of them,except few that actually fight for the consumer(like the one about EA making bait & switch).But those are very rare,most are dumb and pointless...

SopranosFan
SopranosFan

I don't see how you can trademark an entire word or suffix. If the name of the game is farmingville or ranchville or something that is obviously a ripoff of Farmville then I could see it but just using the suffix -ville seems like it would be OK.

Umar10000
Umar10000

Yes!!! Shelbyville is finally gone Wait they're just being owned by Zynga and becoming even more superior than springfield? D'Oh

Umar10000
Umar10000

@mjc0961 lol The Craftscrolls of Edgeville

kkxtrouble
kkxtrouble

@Daian Dont forget abou Townsville in Australia, no the powerpuff girls dont live there.=D

MamaLuigiBarrel
MamaLuigiBarrel

What's next for Zynga? You'll soon be hearing about their next lawsuits against: -Margaritaville -Any real city with the suffix "ville" -Every dictionary in existence containing the word "ville" -Hasbro, for the fictional town of Ponyville

worlock77
worlock77

Maybe next Zynga can sue the city of Naperville, Illinois.

ZoTrAcK
ZoTrAcK

Jimmy Buffet should own the ''ville'' patent since he's the first to use it in Margaritaville!

SicklySunStorm
SicklySunStorm

Well I want to sue any company that wastes our valuable time with cr@p like this.

bignick217
bignick217

Oh crap... Not another repeat of the "Scrolls" Fiasco. "Sigh"... Here we go again!

MJ12-Conspiracy
MJ12-Conspiracy

Honestly......I'm finding it very difficult to care about what happens on this one..... Zynga comes off as a bunch of greezy people, I don't like the way they do business and I don't like how they advertise in the real world. Basically this is the Activision of casual games lol devoid of original thought and devoid of substance and soul...

FriendBear
FriendBear

In an 'ideal' world that is what should happen Duma, but unfortunately we don't live in that world :/ Willing to bet the judge will be in Zynga's pocket by the end of the week and another small slice of Democracy we have will die along with it.

Dumachum
Dumachum

Using the suffix -ville isn't the problem. It's the fact it's a blatant attempt to profit of an already established idea. Even though you might not be able to copyright it it's still a dick move and they know it. It shouldn't be allowed. No one can come up with anything original anymore. A bunch of no name scrub developers putting -craft, -ville, -scrolls etc after their shovelware. The judge should premptively block the project without a claim from Zynga just because they are being asshats.

BlueRaptor7
BlueRaptor7

Ville is a word in the English language. If you can trademark and sue for it, then what's stopping some ridiculous lawsuit like Microsoft suing for anything that uses "soft" as a suffix, or "micro" as a prefix. Utterly stupid.

DiscGuru101
DiscGuru101

EA hasn't tried to own "Sim" or Apple "i" so there is no possible way Zynga has a right to all games with "ville."

Sarkakit
Sarkakit

@Daian I'll do you one better: there actually is a Farmville, VA. But I'm pretty sure it predated Zynga by a lot. Maybe the town should sue Zynga for defamation?

alexLmx6
alexLmx6

@Gooper_Blooper - That's what I thought of too. I find it so hilarious that Zynga thinks anything they've done is original enough to deserve a trademark. But as someone else mentioned here, why on earth would you WANT to name a game something-ville, people will think it's some moronic social game and won't want anything to do with it.

Freezezzy
Freezezzy

Just when you think these lawsuits couldn't get any more ridiculous...

Daian
Daian

@Strategygamer22 That's an example like i wanted to make, i was sure there are at least a few towns that end in ville. Nashville, Tennessee Knoxville, Tennessee Clarksville, Tennessee Bentonville, Arkansas Charlottesville, Virginia Asheville, North Carolina Jacksonville, North Carolina Fayetteville, North Carolina Greenville, South Carolina Bennettsville, South Carolina Evansville, Indiana Naperville, Illinois Louisville, Kentucky Huntsville, Alabama Gainesville, Florida Jacksonville, Florida Danville, California Pleasantville, in eleven U.S. states and in two provinces of Canada Abbeville, Louisiana I guess all of the above should be sued, right Zynga? Ville is a freakin word, they can't own a common word! Stupid greedy bastards...

Strategygamer22
Strategygamer22

So the town Snowville, UT is technically owned by Zynga?

FuryX-4
FuryX-4

Moneyville Where you farm moneys, cash cows, and manage buildings with moneys

kkxtrouble
kkxtrouble

I bet there is a town somewhere called farmville, they should sue Zynga.

kkxtrouble
kkxtrouble

They have gone way overboard here. This is just idiotic. Whats up with the world now? Lawsuits everywhere, about the silliest things.

Barighm
Barighm

The bigger you get, the more likely you are to bully someone. And this, folks, is why the US economy is failing: corporations don't want to compete anymore. They prefer to dominate and eradicate all competition and that doesn't work in a system that demands competition.

Ronnie_Rim
Ronnie_Rim

What the hell kind of name is "Dungeonville" anyway? It almost sounds like an oxymoron.

CptRexKramer
CptRexKramer

How about "Sue-ville" where all the large corporations in town try to sue each other over stupid crap. "I'd by that for a dollar!"