Zynga shouts about "copycat" publishers

Zynga, which makes Facebook games like “FarmVille” and “CityVille,” is miffed with the French game publisher Kobojo who it claims stole its ideas.

According to Reuters said Zynga’s complaint, filed in federal court in San Francisco, focuses on PyramidVille, a game title released by Kobojo on Facebook in early 2011.

This will be interesting news to Nimblebits’ Ian Marsh – who helped create Tiny Towers – and has publicly called out Zynga on being, er, influenced by the popular iOS game.

Zygna’s complaint is that by using the word “ville” it gave the impression that Pyramidville is a member of Zynga’s ‘ville family of games.

The company has been trying to get a trademark for the word “Ville” but this has stalled in the US Patent and Trademark Office. We guess that Superman might be complaining about his hometown of Smallville being trademarked and even the Patent Office does not mess with the Man of Steel.

Zynga said in its complaint that it has promoted the ‘ville games together as a family, identified by the distinctive ‘ ville suffix.”

This is not the first time Zynga has flexed its legal muscles on this point. It has been locked in a similar spat with Blingville.

Zynga said in a statement that, given Kojobo’s refusal to change its game name, legal action was necessary to defend its trademarks and prevent player confusion.

It said that Zynga has gained millions of users who pay to play its ‘ville suite of resource-management games. They are pretty much the same but have different themes.

Zynga has asked for damages of three times the profit that Kobojo earns from Pyramidville. Last year Kobojo received $7.5 million in funding from European venture capital firms. It is unlikely to have earned much from it.