Zynga Sues Google Over Vostu Dispute, Brazilian Judge Grants Injunction

Two big pieces of news today in the Zynga/Vostu lawsuit (details on lawsuit here and here). In addition to that first lawsuit filed in California, Zynga also quietly sued Vostu on its home turf in Brazil (lawsuit embedded below, but it’s in Portugese).

Zynga dragged Google into that lawsuit, apparently because Orkut, popular in Brazil, is hosting the Vostu games that Zynga says are ripoffs. Google, which is a Zynga shareholder, must be thrilled.

…And a judge in Brazil has sided with Zynga for now and has granted a preliminary injunction against Vostu. Vostu And Orkut must remove four games – MegaCity, Café Mania, Pet Mania and Vostu Poker – within 48 hours, or pay a daily fine of R20,000 (about $13,000). Zynga’s press statement:

Zynga Inc has filed a lawsuit in Brazil against Vostu for copyright infringement and unfair competition based on Vostu’s copying of four of Zynga’s games. Zynga is pleased that the Court has reviewed the evidence and found good cause to issue an injunction order requiring Vostu and Google Orkut to cease distribution of four Vostu games – MegaCity, Café Mania, Pet Mania and Vostu Poker – or be subject to fine by the Court. The Court’s action reflects the seriousness of this matter and the irreparable harm Zynga is suffering due to Vostu’s copying. It also takes into account the need to protect Brazilian consumers from acts of infringement and unfair competition.

Professor Bruno Feijó, from Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro and Chief of Vision Lab, analyzed the games and concluded that: “the four games from Vostu characterize a clear case of copying Zynga’s games in both visual interface and gameplay.”

Additionally, Professor João Bernardes Junior, from the University of São Paulo (USP), affirmed: “Vostu’s games are copies of Zynga’s games when compared on gameplay and player interface.”

Zynga welcomes Vostu into the arena of social games, but will not tolerate blatant infringement of its creative works as its business strategy. “It is one thing to be inspired by Zynga games, but it is another to copy our key product features and intellectual property in violation of the law.” — Reggie Davis, General Counsel for Zynga Inc.

And a Zynga-supplied translation of the decision:

“I received the retro brief as an amendment of the brief. Before the elements attached to the case records, there is likelihood in the plaintiff’s claims, which can be inferred by the case’s record documents, by the similarity of the games as well as being present the periculum in mora, I grant the preliminary injunction, determining that the defendants stop the use, exhibition, edition, reproduction, distribution, sale, offer for sale, broadcast or distribution, assignment or transference of the videogames Vostu Mega City, Vostu Café Mania, Vostu Pet Mania and Vostu Poke, within 48 hours, under penalty of daily fine of R$20,000.00. Under the terms of article 835, of the CPC, I determine to the plaintiff the provision of bond on the value of 20% the value assigned to the matter, within 48 hours, under the penalty of repeal of the preliminary injunction.” — Tribunal de Justiça do Estado de São Paulo, 10ª Vara Cível (10th Civil Court)

One question I have for Zynga is, why didn’t they sue Facebook, too? These games are available on that platform as well, and have plenty of users.

Update: Vostu’s statement:

Vostu will vigorously appeal this ruling, which we firmly believe has no merit.

This is a desperate and misguided legal tactic by Zynga, a foreign company with no real Brazilian roots — a company that has failed to secure a foothold in the local marketplace and failed to win consumers who have clearly shown they prefer the superior games created by Vostu’s Brazilian team.

We are confident the Court of Appeals will reverse the injunction, when presented with Vostu’s position and its full story.

In less than two years, Vostu has become the clear leader in social gaming in Brazil and has grown to 35 million registered users who enjoy our high quality games, which are specifically developed for the Brazilian audience. We employ more than 50 highly-skilled employees in Brazil and over 500 employees in the region, each of whom contributes to the Brazilian economy.

Vostu has been deeply entrenched with the Brazilian economy by heavily investing in local marketing, helping brands such as Guarana advertise, doing creative deals with Brazil’s most popular star, Ivete Sangalo, and conducting in-depth market research analyses with Brazilian consumers.

We remain confident that Vostu will continue to maintain its dominance in the industry by offering the best gaming entertainment to Brazil and to employ the best and brightest Brazilians in the gaming industry. We are proud to be the first and most prominent gaming company in Brazil and being able to entertain our users with highly localized and relevant entertainment.

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