Zynga and Playdom settle 14-month-old suit

Katie Gatto · November 24, 2010 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/1419

Settlement for undisclosed amount stops the lawyers, but not the confusion to game players

Zynga and Playdom settled Tuesday a 14-month lawsuit for alleged trade-secret theft. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Zynga sued Playdom in September of last year, when several Zynga staffers defected, allegedly taking valuable information to the competition.

The former Zynga employees, Raymond Holmes, David Rohrl, Martha Sapeta, and Scott Siegel, were accused of taking various Zynga documents with them when they left the company. The list of documents taken includes a work entitled “The Zynga Playbook,” which contains a bevy of information about how the San Francisco-based social media gaming giant creates games and stays competitive, as well as other documents such as user contact lists.

Forms of non-document related infringement are also alleged to have occurred during job interviews, when candidates coming from Zynga were asked to compare and contrast the two companies’ games and suggest new features.

One of Zynga's claims specifically involves the “Mafia Wars” trademark, which the company claims was infringed upon by Playdom’s game “Mobsters.”

Irony abounds around trademark issues

This part  is kind of ironic, when you consider that Zynga has had its own spots of trouble with that trademark. Digital Chocolate sued Zynga in August of this year, because Digital Chocolate had released a game with the same title for cell phones several years ago.

Oh, and let's not forget about the February of 2009 suit by David Maestri, creator of a Facebook-based game called Mob Wars, which was settled for an undisclosed amount.

If that is not enough to make your head spin, look at all three games together, and you will see how easy it is to confuse the titles.

Playdom did admit to the fact that Zynga documents had been given to them by Chris Hinton, a former Zynga employee, who oddly enough was not named in the suit.  Playdom also admitted that the information in the documents were used to compete against Zynga.

Zynga currently boasts 360 million monthly active users, while Playdom has 34.8 million. Playdom was bought by Disney in July of this year for $563.2 million.

Neither Playdom nor Zynga was available for immediate comment

(Images property of Playdom, Zynga and David Maestr, respectivly)

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Zynga is the largest social gaming company with 8.5 million daily users and 45 million monthly users.  Zynga’s games are available on Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Hi5, Friendster, Yahoo! and the iPhone, and include Texas Hold’Em Poker, Mafia Wars, YoVille, Vampires, Street Racing, Scramble and Word Twist.  The company is funded by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, IVP, Union Square Ventures, Foundry Group, Avalon Ventures, Pilot Group, Reid Hoffman and Peter Thiel.  Zynga is headquartered at the Chip Factory in San Francisco.  For more information, please visit www.zynga.com.