On March 1, 2011, Zynga filed for a trademark on the word: ville. The trademark was filed with the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM), the official trade marks and designs office of the European Union.
Zynga’s trademark representative is Rouse, a specialist in international IP business whose client list ranges from Honeywell and BP to Christian Dior and Starbucks Coffee.
Could this be Zynga’s response to a recent lawsuit?
Or is the company doing whatever it takes to protect its “ville” line up of games on Facebook?
In January, TechDirt broke the story that the social network gaming developer, sent a cease and desist letter to a West Virginia company that is developing a game named Blingville for Facebook, alleging trademark infringement for its use of the word “ville”. The letter resulted in Blingville filing a lawsuit against Zynga.
While Zynga doesn’t own the trademark on “ville” and hasn’t filed one yet with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, not filing for a trademark in the U.S. first is not necessarily uncommon, as seen with its trademark filing for Rewardville.
Since I broke that story about Zynga filing for the Rewardville trademark which appeared on TechCrunch back in January, I’ve been checking back regularly with OHIM to see if another application was filed. And this past week, it was.
Goods and Services
According to the application filed, Zynga is seeking three different classifications in “goods and services”, including for “online computer and electronic games”.
9: Scientific, nautical, surveying, photographic, cinematographic, optical, weighing, measuring, signalling, checking (supervision), life-saving and teaching apparatus and instruments; apparatus and instruments for conducting, switching, transforming, accumulating, regulating or controlling electricity; apparatus for recording, transmission or reproduction of sound or images; magnetic data carriers, recording discs; automatic vending machines and mechanisms for coin-operated apparatus; cash registers, calculating machines, data processing equipment and computers; fire-extinguishing apparatus; computer game software; video game programs; computer software platforms for social networking; interactive video game programs; downloadable electronic game programs and computer software platforms for social networking that may be accessed via the Internet, computers and wireless devices; computer software to enable uploading, posting, showing, displaying, tagging, blogging, sharing or otherwise providing electronic media or information in the fields of virtual communities, electronic gaming, entertainment, and general interest via the Internet or other communications networks with third parties; magnetic coded gift cards.
25: Clothing, footwear and headgear; clothing, namely, t-shirts, sweatshirts, socks, jackets, button down shirts, polo shirts, dresses, skirts, jeans, shorts, sweatpants, neckties, aprons, belts, gloves, jerseys and headwear.
41: Education; providing of training; entertainment; sporting and cultural activities; entertainment services, namely, providing online computer and electronic games, enhancements within online computer and electronic games, and game applications within online computer and electronic games; providing online reviews of computer games and providing of information relating to computer games; providing an Internet website portal in the field of computer games and gaming; entertainment services, namely, providing virtual environments in which users can interact through social games for recreational, leisure or entertainment purposes.
How will it play out?
How will Zynga’s attempt at trademarking the word “ville” play out for its line up of current and future “ville” properties?
Will it result in Blingville losing its name?
Will it result in other companies losing their names?
No one will likely know anytime soon, but news of the trademark is sure to create some bad publicity for Zynga. In February, the company settled a lawsuit filed by Digital Chocolate over the use of “Mafia Wars”.
“Though the companies settled the lawsuit, neither disclosed terms for the settlement, according to The Recorder. The full list of charges against Zynga included federal/common law trademark infringement, federal/state/common law unfair competition, false designation of origin, and cyber-squatting”, wrote Eric Caoili for Gamasutra.
While Zynga does own the domain zyngaville.com, which it re-directs to its homepage, the company doesn’t own ville.com. The domain name is currently registered to the domain company Marchex.