Brian Fargo to challenge Zynga? Files 12 “with friends” game trademarks secretly

Sparkworkz with Friends

As I wrote back in July, Zynga filed an application (No. 85361265) for trademark rights on the word mark ”With Friends” in the United States, likely as part of its intellectual property strategy to protect its “With Friends” brands.

The “goods and services” section spelled out in its U.S. trademark is simple: “Providing an online portal for computer games, video games, and gaming applications; providing information about computer games, video games, and gaming applications via the Internet.”

But the trademark filing by the social networking giant which has launched popular takes on word games such as “Words with Friends” and “Hanging with Friends”, hasn’t scared off the competition.

Twelve trademark applications that include the phrase “with friends” have apparently been filed on behalf of Brian Fargo, the CEO of inXile entertainment

While the trademark filings are public, it took a little sleuthing to link Brian Fargo to the applications with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, which include “Dominos with Friends”, “Sudoku with Friends”, and even “Crosswords with Friends” among the list.

The applicant for each record is Roxy Friday, LLC, whose active officers include none other than Brian Fargo. 

You may not have heard of Roxy Friday or think the Fargo-names are just a coincidence, but Roxy Friday has two other records on file with the USPTO: Platform Racing and Pinball Construction Set.  Pinball Construction Set was designed by Bill Budge, an Apple II game designer like Fargo.

If that’s not enough evidence, Platform Racing is developed by Sparkworkz, the web division of inXile. 

So what is inXile attempting to trademark?

Here’s a look at the applications, all filed on August 9, 2011.

85393489  FARKLE WITH FRIENDS  
85393477  GIN RUMMY WITH FRIENDS  
85393441  CANASTA WITH FRIENDS  
85393429  YACHT WITH FRIENDS  
85392140  MAHJONG WITH FRIENDS  
85392129  CRIBBAGE WITH FRIENDS  
85392110  BACKGAMMON WITH FRIENDS  
85392099  DOMINOS WITH FRIENDS  
85392092  PINOCHOLE WITH FRIENDS  
85387677  SOLITAIRE WITH FRIENDS  
85387635  SUDOKU WITH FRIENDS  
85387620  CROSSWORDS WITH FRIENDS

Nearly all the filings fall under the same goods and services as Zynga’s “With Friends” filing; International Class: 041, “Providing an online portal for computer games, video games, and gaming applications; providing information about computer games, video games, and gaming applications via the Internet.”

Brian Fargo recently told a reporter with VentureBeat that inXile will focus on social games that can be operated as a service, where the game launches and is operated in perpetuity online. 

Zynga will definitely take notice, and the outcome will have the attention of many in the social gaming space looking to capitalize on games that include “With Friends”.

Stay tuned.

Discussion: Gamezebo, Bloomberg and Games.com

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