U.S. District Court, Central District of California
Case No. 11-cv-00919, Filed June 17, 2011
SocialApps, a California company that develops, posts, and maintains online social network games for sale, has sued online social gaming giant Zynga alleging copyright infringement, violation of trade secrets, breach of written contract, breach of implied-in-fact contract, and breach of confidence. SocialApps owns the copyrights and source code to “myFarm.” The company’s complaint, filed in court on June 17, 2011, alleges that its direct competitor Zynga, cajoled it into sharing its source code with promises of compensation and recognition, and then ran once they got the secret.
Plaintiffs claim they invested substantial time, resources and funds to develop myFarm– the first farming social network game that allowed players to create their own virtual farms, raise virtual produce and animals, and harvest their virtual farm goods to trade with or sell to other players. They first publicly released myFarm on Facebook in November 2008. In May 2009 Zynga approached SocialApps to acquire intellectual rights and source code for myFarm. The companies entered into a Letter of Agreement for the source code and, SocialApps was under the impression that Zynga would compensate and credit them for any use of myFarm. The complaint alleges that after Zynga got confidential source code, SocialApps never heard from Zynga again and couldn’t get in touch with them when they tried. Zynga released its own farm-based social game, Farmville on June 19, 2009. SocialApps believes Zynga, having had access to, and knowledge of, their source code then used it to create Farmville, without ever compensating them or receiving their permission.
SocialApps formally registered myFarm or its source code with the Copyright Office until June 13, 2011, shortly before filing this suit against Zynga. SocialApps asserts that Zynga deliberately sought to divert revenues from them, and that they’ve suffered damages in excess of $100,000. They are seeking permanent injunction, statutory and punitive damages, and attorney’s fees. They are also seeking Zynga’s profits and gains from Farmville since these are in excess of $500,000. SocialApps also believes Zynga is using its source code to generate other popular virtual world games like FrontierVille, CityVille and FishVille.