Will “ville” become the next “book” of trademark infringement battles in the social networking world?
The online gaming company Blingville has asked the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia for a declaratory judgment that its “Blingville” mark for a planned Facebook game does not infringe Zynga’s marks in either “Farmville” or “Cityville.”
Blingville, headquartered in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, said in a complaint filed Jan. 14 that its predecessor company had registered the domain name blingville.com in October 2004 and filed an application to register Blingville as a trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office last November.
Zynga found out that Blingville was planning to release a Facebook game application under that name, and sent the company three cease-and-desist letters threatening legal action for trademark infringement. Zynga publishes and owns IP rights for the ‘Ville family of social networking games, which also includes Yoville, Petville, Frontierville, and Fishville.
“Zynga takes the protection of its intellectual property very seriously, and intends to vigorously defend its rights in the ‘Ville family of marks,” Zynga’s attorney Dennis Wilson from Keats McFarland & Wilson wrote in early January.
Zynga’s lawyers asserted that the Blingville mark for a social networking game violates the Lanham Act because there’s a likelihood of confusion with Zynga’s games that contain the word “ville,” Blingville said in its complaint. Not surprisingly, Blingville disagreed, and said Zynga’s claims are hurting its business.
“Zynga’s assertion of trademark infringement adversely affects Blingville and will continue to do so until this court makes a determination of Blingville’s absolute right to continue to use the trademark