You’ve visited FarmVille, and you’ve built a thing or two in CityVille. Think you might want to strip down to your loincloth and visit PyramidVille? Whoa, a word of warning. If you play PyramidVille on Facebook or mobile, you are exiting Zynga’s territory and entering a digital country that’s actually owned by French studio Kobojo. If you’re confused, that’s understandable: PyramidVille looks quite a bit like Zynga’s handiwork, to say nothing of its name, which is why Zynga is taking Kobojo to court.
Zynga sued Kobojo last week for “willful trademark infringement” and accused the Paris-based company of exploiting Zynga’s “hard-earned reputation in the social gaming space” by tacking “Ville” onto the end of PyramidVille. Kobojo’s game, according to Zynga, may cause confusion, and Kobojo has reportedly resisted pressure to change its game’s moniker.
Zynga is suing to force Kobojo to stop using the name PyramidVille, and it’s also suing for damages “including without limitation three times the amount of any and all profits realized” by Kobojo for utilizing the “Ville” extension.
That’s a lot of drama over some pointy triangles!
Then again, none of this is surprising. Kobojo surely knew what it was doing: it’s not a small indie dev that just got into the game. It has offices in Paris, Berlin, and Madrid. The company’s chairman is Gerhard Florin, who was EA’s vice president of international publishing before he signed up with Kobojo. And PyramidVille doesn’t just sound like a Zynga game; it looks and plays like one, too. The title is obviously meant to lure players into thinking they’re playing another Zynga game.
On the other hand, unless Kobojo is directly lifting code from the established “Ville” games, can Zynga make a legal claim to the “Ville” suffix, cartoony visuals, and city-building mechanics? If so, Sim City‘s Will Wright wants a word with you, Zynga.