U.S. District Court, Northern District of California
Case No. 09-cv-02958, Filed July 1, 2009
This case was dismissed on September 25, 2009, following a final judgment upon consent. Zynga received $45,000 in judgment, plus attorney’s fees and costs. The judgment has been satisfied as of September 29, 2009.
On Wednesday, July 1 the company brought suit against Phillip Labrasca for infringement of its trademark ZYNGA and violation of its Terms of Service for its Texas Hold ‘Em Poker game. The complaint alleges that Labrasca owns and operates thirteen websites using or connected to the ZYNGA mark in order to sell virtual poker chips to be used in its online poker game. The case is Zynga Game Network, Inc. v. Labrasca, N.D. Cal., Case No. 5:09-cv-02957-HRL. Read the full complaint here.
Zynga brought the exact same allegations on Thursday, July 2 against Duc Doan for his operation of two similar websites. That case is Zynga Game Network, Inc. v. Doan, N.D. Cal., Case No. 5:09-cv-02958-PVT. Read the full complaint here.
The seven counts of action Zynga alleges in each of these cases are the same as in John Does 1-50:
Trademark Infringement – False Designation of Origin Regarding the Mark ZYNGA: The complaint alleges that consumers may be confused or misled into thinking a connection exists between Zynga and the defendants by the defendants’ use of the ZYNGA mark.
Trademark Infringement – Federal Cybersquatting Regarding the Mark ZYNGA: The complaint alleges that the defendants registered domain names with the bad faith intent to profit from use of the ZYNGA mark.
California Statutory Unfair Competition: The complaint alleges that by using the ZYNGA mark and selling the virtual chips required for the game the defendants are attempting to trade on Zynga’s goodwill and have gained an unfair advantage.
Common Law Trademark Infringement of the Mark ZYNGA: The complaint alleges that the defendants’ use of the ZYNGA mark causes confusion or deception as to the source of, and authorization for, the defendants’ products in violation of California common law.
California Common Law Passing Off and Unfair Competition: Zynga is seeking punitive damages for the defendants’ allegedly intentional and malicious actions which Zynga says resulted in an unfair advantage.
Breach of Contract: Zynga claims the defendants agreed to be bound by the game’s Terms of Service by participating in the poker game. “By selling ‘chips’ for use in the Game through the Infringing Websites, and by using the Game itself to transfer the ‘chips’ they sell, Defendants have breached the Terms of Service, which specifically prohibit Game users from exchanging ‘chips’ “for ‘real-world’ money or otherwise exchange items for value outside of the Game.”
Intentional Interference with Contractual Relations: Zynga alleges that the defendants intentionally acted to induce consumers to breach their contracts with Zynga by selling chips without authorization at a lower price than Zynga offered and by distributing the chips in a manner prohibited by the Terms of Service.
Zynga is certainly making its intentions known, i.e., they take IP rights seriously! and they will protect their IP!