Zynga takes “Oregon Trail”?

Video Game Law Blog

June 07, 2011

Gaming company Zynga Inc. has reportedly been sued by the Learning Company for having used and infringed on its registered and exclusive trademark phrase “The Oregon Trail” in its FrontierVille social game. According to the lawsuit, the Learning Company approached Zynga in 2010 to discuss whether it would be interested in assisting with the development of a Facebook version of the The Oregon Trail game. It appears that the collaboration never occurred, despite the Learning Company having allegedly provided Zynga with information about it’s The Oregon Trail brand upon its request within the context of the said discussions. The Learning Company later collaborated with the game developer Blue Fang LLC to produce a Facebook version of The Oregon Trail.

The lawsuit also claims that Zynga intends to launch a video game with an identical theme to The Oregon Trail, played on the same gaming platform and using the same Oregon Trail name, and goes as far as to allege that Zynga’s use of the Learning Company’s The Oregon Trail trademark is consistent with its reputation of willfully infringing others’ intellectual property rights. The Learning Company alleges that Zynga is willfully and intentionally intending to “free-ride” off of the goodwill associated with the The Oregon Trail trademark.

Further to its allegations that Zynga’s use of the phrase Oregon Trail will cause confusion among consumers, dilute and tarnish the quality of the Learning Company’s The Oregon Trail trademark and cause irreparable harm to its goodwill, the Learning Company is seeking monetary damages and requests that the Court permanently enjoin Zynga from using the trademark, or any derivatives of same, in commerce.

Coverage here