Digital Chocolate, a leading publisher of casual games for the iPhone (and a bunch of other mobile phones), the Web, Facebook and Xbox LIVE, has apparently filed suit against its high-profile rival Zynga.
We don’t have any details on the specifics of the lawsuit yet, but the nature of the suit indicates that this is a dispute over intellectual property and/or trademarks.
Zynga has already commented on the suit, but declined to share details about its subject at this point. The company says it is “surprised and disappointed by Digital Chocolate’s lawsuit” and that the timing of the action appears to be opportunistic.
Zynga added that it will defend itself vigorously.
A quick check reveals that Digital Chocolate holds a couple of trademarks in the U.S., and an equally quick Google Patents search reveals only one U.S. patent issued to Digital Chocolate, namely no. 2006/0281553. Said patent was published back in 2006, listing William ‘Trip’ Hawkins – founder of Digital Chocolate and former founder and CEO of Electronic Arts – as one of the inventors.
We’re still digging in order to learn what the suit is about, specifically.
Update: TG Daily got a look at the court documents and reports that Digital Chocolate is suing Zynga because it “falsely claimed to the public, the United States Patent Office and the courts that it ‘coined’ the Mafia Wars mark and owns superior rights to the mark.”
The gaming startup indeed holds the rights to the name Mafia Wars, although its eponymous mobile game(s) are largely unknown compared to Zynga’s smash hit with the same name.
Digital Chocolate goes on to allege that it notified Zynga of the name conflict last year and was subsequently told, in writing, that Zynga would stop using the Mafia Wars name. Except it did not, hence the lawsuit.
We’ve contacted Digital Chocolate but have not heard back yet.
Digital Chocolate develops and publishes casual and social games for the web, Facebook, and mobile phones. The company has operations in the U.S., Finland, Spain, India, and Mexico.
Zynga was founded in July 2007 by Mark Pincus and is named for his late American Bulldog, Zinga. Loyal and spirited, Zinga’s name is a nod to a legendary African warrior queen. The early supporting founding team included Eric Schiermeyer, Michael Luxton, Justin Waldron, Kyle Stewart, Scott Dale, John Doerr, Steve Schoettler, Kevin Hagan, and Andrew Trader. Zynga’s mission is connecting the world through games. Everyday millions of people interact with their friends and express their unique personalities through our...