News Trademarks Video Games

Threats by Zynga backfire as thousands line up online to play Blingville on Facebook


Recently, it came to light over at TechDirt, a technology news blog, that Zynga sent a cease & desist letter to Blingville LLC, the West Virginia company that runs Blingville, an up and coming Facebook game that is currently in Beta testing.

Zynga’s threats against the company, which resulted in Blingville responding with a lawsuit (which can be read here), appear to have backfired at this point.

While no decision has been made as of yet in the lawsuit filed by Blingville, thousands are lining up to test the game online, partly thanks to the press Blingville has received by dozens of technology blogs and news sites, including domainer blogs The Domains and Domain Gang.  

I signed up earlier today to become a Beta tester, and was welcomed by a message stating, “Beta Testing in Progress: Your #20,992 in line to test Blingville.”  According to the message, testing will last a couple more weeks as the game is prepared for a full launch on Facebook.

Zynga/Ville Trademark developments

People have their own opinions on what the outcome should be when it comes to Zynga vs Blingville.

Whatever the case, there are more “ville” trademarks not owned by Zynga, than there are trademarks actually owned by the social gaming development company. 

In fact, earlier this month, Build-a-Bear applied for trademarks on and Bearville.  The company owns and operates Build-a-Bearville online, an extension of the in-store experience it offers to customers.

While Blingville LLC, hasn’t put out too much information, the company does have a subscription-based newsletter that aims to keep fans and supporters connected.  The company also registered additional domain names related to its soon-to-be released game, including, which re-directs to

The last public statement by the company was posted on the company’s Facebook page and read: ” Blingville would like to sincerely thank all of our loyal fans for their support in our defense against Zynga! Your comments are greatly appreciated!”


POLITICO sends cease and desist letter to the owner of domain

The College Politico

The owner of (registered about a year ago) is certainly enjoying some traffic, after receving a “cease and desist” letter from POLITICO.  POLITICO which gets over 2 million visitors per month according to Compete, is an online Political News website.

As you can see from the screenshot above, the webmaster is posting stories about this, and getting lots of attention by bloggers. 

From The Washington Examiner:

The origins of the word, “politico,” date to 1630, and signify a person active in party politics, according to Princeton’s WordNet.

Politico via counsel has issued similar cease and desist letters. In December 2007, the company forced the hand of an electronic trade publication aimed at political marketing to Hispanics. In a letter to readers, publisher Arturo Villar said the publication “reluctantly” changed their name from La Política to CandidatoUSA. Capitol News also holds the rights to Campus Politico, Wall Street Politico, Hollywood Politico, Mobilepolitico, El Policito and Politico TV.

“From a legal standpoint, [Politico] probably has a reasonable claim,” said Robert Cox, president of Media Bloggers Association. “The issue is whether people are likely to be confused.”

“It’s not even a close call,” said Jerald Fritz, Politico’s general counsel. “Brand and names are essential for any venture…we’re aimed at protecting our mark.” Fritz referred to Ford Mustang, Apple Computers and Greyhound as trademarks supportive of Politico’s claim. “There are countless examples. You can go on and on,” he said.

Ron Coleman, a commercial litigator and trademark lawyer at New York and New Jersey’s Goetz Fitzpatrick LLP., has targeted weak points in Politico’s argument on his blog, Likelihood of Confusion. Notably, said Coleman, generic words do not enjoy trademark protection, while descriptive words may only become trademarks if they have acquired distinctiveness.

“Politico’s problem is that although it may indeed be able prove that ‘POLITICO’ has acquired distinctiveness for online journals, it is still a rather weak trademark because of its descriptiveness,” he said.