Zynga caught in another fight, this time, over 'With Friends' brand

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Zynga With FriendsWhile we may poke fun at Facebook game developers for their use of "ville" or the "just add 'Wars'" approach, naming games remains a matter of serious business, especially when it involves the US Patent and Trademark Office.

After their fight with Digital Chocolate over Mafia Wars in February, Zynga applied for a series of trademarks, including the word "ville" and "With Friends" in Europe, and then "With Friends" for use in the US last month. Zynga came by the 'With Friends' brand last December, when it purchased a small Texas mobile developer, Newtoy, for $53.3 million. Newtoy made it big on mobile by creating Words With Friends and We Rule, before they became Zynga With Friends, churning out Words With Friends for Facebook (and eventually, the Android), and then Hanging With Friends for the iOS.
Zynga With Friends Newtoy
You'd think that by doing all this, Zynga has secured their rights to the 'With Friends' brand, but you'd be wrong. This is because last week, a company named Roxy Friday LLC quietly filed for a dozen 'With Friends' trademarks of what are obviously games:

  • Farkle With Friends
  • Gin Rummy With Friends
  • Canasta With Friends
  • Yacht With Friends
  • Mahjong With Friends
  • Cribbage With Friends
  • Backgammon With Friends
  • Dominos With Friends
  • Pinochle With Friends
  • Solitaire With Friends
  • Sudoku With Friends
  • Crosswords With Friends

After some excellent sleuthing, Fusible.com traced these filings to Brian Fargo, the CEO of inXile Entertainment, which has a web division called SparkWorkz that offers free-to-play online games.

There is no way this list is going to remain unnoticed by Zynga. Can you say, "Shots fired"?

[Hat-tip: PC World]
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