Time to pick Mike’s brain: Trademarks, Domains and C&D

There is an unreal situation unfolding between social media game maker Zynga and a software startup about to launch a game on Facebook.

Upon examining the C&D papers and reading the response of Blingville, we believe this is a case for Mike Berkens who is both an attorney and a domainer – not to mention, proud dad of Bandit Berkens.

In a nutshell, Zynga is launching a game called “Rewardville” and does not want any other games to end in *Ville but theirs!

That’s kind of ballsy for a company that started using “Mafia Wars” as the name of a game, all while an existing game shared the same name. Zynga eventually licensed the title, but apparently now they are going “carte blanche” against any game ending in “Ville”.

So where’s the catch?

Zynga sent the C&D to Blingville LLC, a Virginia company. Adding further to the twist, Blingville LLC operates from Blingville.com which they registered in 2004. Blingville LLC is getting ready to launch a social media game on Facebook.

Blingville LLC is also in agreement to license the applied-for trademark for “Blingville” through Overtime Apps LLC, a Philadelphia company.

After receiving the ludicrous C&D letter from Zynga, Blingville LLC did the obvious: they filed a lawsuit against giant Zynga, seeking a court’s decision that they are not infringing on any mark owned by Zynga.

We can’t wait to see virtual goods game maker Zynga eat some real dirt on this one! 😀

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3 Responses to “Time to pick Mike’s brain: Trademarks, Domains and C&D”
  1. Bret Moore says:

    This is also similar to Facebook’s attach on Teachbook, as well as its registration of FACE as a trademark (see http://mirskylegal.com/2010/12/facebook-trademarks-%E2%80%9Cface%E2%80%9D-%E2%80%93-how/ for more info), and possibly the Dealbook UDRP issue that aroused a lot of laches discussion.

    Zynga’s got an argument, since it has a bunch of *ville games out there. Is it a winning argument? I don’t know. It’s certainly within the realm of possibility that a court says it’s too generic to deserve protection. And does Zynga own any trademarks on the *ville games? It may not need to, since Facebook is so huge and the *ville games are ubiquitous, so there’s plenty of evidence of acquired secondary meaning. So this could be an interesting case…

  2. Lucius "Guns" Fabrice says:

    hi Bret – Thank you for posting this information.

    It’s obvious that Zynga doesn’t want a competitor in the “virtual goods” game market on Facebook – which so happens to use a name that ends in “ville”. But I believe Blingville’s approach to seek a judgment on whether or not there is a violation of a mark – outside of use on Facebook – might just clear the ground for them. It’d be interesting to see what follows, perhaps Zynga attempting to strong-arm the medium (Facebook) into blocking Blingville from its marketplace. There are billions at stake, for sure.

  3. Well now with all your publicity of Bandit, I see that my BIG MONEY idea for a game; Banditville has been snagged.

    Interesting to note that the granddaddy of all Ville domains, Ville.com is owned by Marchex

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