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
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.

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