Zynga has apparently told the makers of the dating website CupidWithFriends that they need to change the site’s name, because it allegedly infringes on Zynga’s trademarks.
CupidWithFriends was built by the startup Apartment 7 (which also released the dating apps Flock and Wednesday Night). The site launched a couple of months ago, allowing users to build and edit dating profiles for their friends.
Apartment 7 co-founder Jared Tame just forwarded me a copy of the letter from Zynga’s lawyers. I’ve pasted the full letter at the end of this post, but the gist is that users are likely to think that CupidWithFriends is associated in some way with Zynga (which acquired the developer of the With Friends mobile gaming franchise, a franchise that recently expanded with the launch of Running With Friends). So the social gaming company is demanding that CupidWithFriends change its name by May 24.
Tame said he has “no plans to change the name of the product,” adding,”At the end of the day, we’re busy trying to innovate in the dating space and dealing with Zynga would be a major distraction to us. I think they should be more focused on innovating rather than targeting month-old startups like us.”
I emailed Zynga for confirmation and details, but a spokesperson declined to comment. When I ran a search on the US Patent and Trademark Office’s website (direct links to specific filings don’t seem to be working for me), I did find a trademark filing for “With Friends” in relation to computer game software and entertainment services.
Tame isn’t the only one building an app named using a “with friends” name. There’s also Bang With Friends (which has other problems, as it was recently booted from the Apple App Store) — I asked the company whether it has received a similar letter from Zynga, but it declined to comment.
Here’s the full letter to CupidWithFriends:
Dear Sir or Madam:
We serve as intellectual property counsel to Zynga Inc. (“Zynga”). Among other things, Zynga publishes and owns intellectual property rights in the ‘WITH FRIENDS™ family of social games, which includes Words With Friends®, Chess With Friends®, Scramble With Friends®, Hanging With Friends™, Matching With Friends™, Gems With Friends™ and Games With Friends®, as well as other ‘WITH FRIENDS games in various stages of development (collectively the ‘WITH FRIENDS Family of Trademarks). Each of Zynga’s games using the ‘WITH FRIENDS Family of Trademarks is published and played by millions of users on various social networking portals, including Facebook, Android and iPhone.
Zynga has consistently used and promoted the ‘WITH FRIENDS Family of Trademarks together as a family and, as a result of Zynga’s extensive marketing efforts and commercial success, the ‘WITH FRIENDS Family of Trademarks is strongly identified by consumers with Zynga’s reputation for quality.
It has come to our attention that CupidWithFriends has developed and launched an application called “Cupid With Friends”. CupidWithFriends’ use of the name “Cupid With Friends” for an online application is confusingly similar to the ‘WITH FRIENDS Family of Trademarks owned by Zynga, and users are likely to believe, erroneously, that CupidWithFriends’ application is published, sponsored, endorsed by or associated with Zynga. CupidWithFriends’ use of “Cupid With Friends” also dilutes the distinctiveness of Zynga’s famous ‘WITH FRIENDS Family of Trademarks.
Zynga has invested substantial time and resources in developing and promoting the ‘WITH FRIENDS Family of Trademarks, and it vigorously protects its rights in its marks, both collectively and individually. Zynga hereby demands that CupidWithFriends immediately cease use of the name “Cupid With Friends” in connection with its online application, and refrain from further exploitation of the goodwill that Zynga has developed in its ‘WITH FRIENDS Family of Trademarks.
We anticipate that you will accede to this demand, and ask that CupidWithFriends confirm by Friday, May 24, 2013 that it has ceased use of the name “Cupid With Friends” in connection with its online application. Nothing contained in this letter constitutes an express or implied waiver of any rights, remedies, or defenses of Zynga, all of which are expressly reserved.
Very truly yours,
Dennis L. Wilson
Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP