Social game developer Digital Chocolate has filed suit against Zynga for trademark infringement and unfair competition regarding the Mafia Wars mark. Digital Chocolate alleges that it created a mobile game called Mafia Wars in 2004, three years before Zynga was founded. Digital Chocolate has since published three sequels for mobile platforms, the most recent in 2009. Digital Chocolate claims that its Mafia Wars games have been downloaded over 2 million times.
Zynga's Mafia Wars launched in 2008 and is now available to play on a variety of social networks and iPhone. The app draws around 28 million monthly active users, making it one of the largest social games in Zynga's portfolio. Digital Chocolate says it sent a notice to Zynga in January 2009 asking that the company cease use of the Mafia Wars names. Zynga allegedly responded by saying that it would stop using the name and would not attempt to claim trademark rights.
Two months later, Zynga filed an application with the US Patent Office to register the Mafia Wars trademark for a range of products including beer mugs, sweatshirts, and hats. Zynga also launched a multi-million dollar advertising campaign featuring its Mafia Wars logo with national convenience store chain 7-Eleven. Digital Chocolate then filed suit, charging Zynga with trademark infringement, unfair competition, false designation of origin, and cyber-squatting.
Digital Chocolate is suing for damages, attorney's fees, and transfer of the MafiaWars.com domain name currently owned by Zynga. Zynga's Mafia Wars has been high profile in the news lately, thanks to the launch of the Las Vegas expansion. Zynga has previously been sued over Mafia Wars, most notably by Psycho Monkey, a company that held the rights to the pioneering Mob Wars game as part of an arrangement with SGN.
[via Courthouse News Service]
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