Ever since Google "secretly" invested in Zynga last year, we thought so too. But apparently not, as TechCrunch reports that the creator of FarmVille has filed suit against the search giant for its involvement with Brazilian social games developer Vostu. Zynga claims that Vostu has copied four of its games. (Keep in mind, Vostu has since filed a countersuit against Zynga for the very same thing.) Google has been dragged into this scrap because Orkut, a social network popular in Brazil that hosts the very games Zynga is targeting, is a Google property.
And, according to TechCrunch, Zynga filed another lawsuit against Vostu in a Brazilian court. Better yet (for Zynga, at least), a Brazilian judge has sided with Zynga and granted it a preliminary injunction against Vostu. The injunction, or court order, demands that Vostu and Orkut must remove four games--MegaCity, Pet Mania, Cafe Mania and Vostu Poker--within 48 unless the two want to pay a fine of about $13,000 USD every day until they are removed.
"Professor Bruno Feijó, from Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro and Chief of Vision Lab, analyzed the games and concluded that: 'the four games from Vostu characterize a clear case of copying Zynga's games in both visual interface and gameplay,'" Zynga said in a statement. This was affirmed by Professor João Bernardes Junior from the University of São Paulo. At this point, we doubt Google and Zynga will hit the clubs together anytime soon ... or whatever bros do. Google declined comment.
Update: Vostu has decided to appeal the ruling made in Brazilian court. Here's Vostu's statement in full:
Vostu will vigorously appeal this ruling, which we firmly believe has no merit.
This is a desperate and misguided legal tactic by Zynga, a foreign company with no real Brazilian roots -- a company that has failed to secure a foothold in the local marketplace and failed to win consumers who have clearly shown they prefer the superior games created by Vostu's Brazilian team.
We are confident the Court of Appeals will reverse the injunction, when presented with Vostu's position and its full story.
In less than two years, Vostu has become the clear leader in social gaming in Brazil and has grown to 35 million registered users who enjoy our high quality games, which are specifically developed for the Brazilian audience. We employ more than 50 highly-skilled employees in Brazil and over 500 employees in the region, each of whom contributes to the Brazilian economy.
Vostu has been deeply entrenched with the Brazilian economy by heavily investing in local marketing, helping brands such as Guarana advertise, doing creative deals with Brazil's most popular star, Ivete Sangalo, and conducting in-depth market research analyses with Brazilian consumers.
We remain confident that Vostu will continue to maintain its dominance in the industry by offering the best gaming entertainment to Brazil and to employ the best and brightest Brazilians in the gaming industry. We are proud to be the first and most prominent gaming company in Brazil and being able to entertain our users with highly localized and relevant entertainment.