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Zynga Takes Developer To Court For 'Blatant Copyright Infringement'

Social gaming giant Zynga (FarmVille, Words With Friends) filed a lawsuit Thursday claiming that social gaming start-up Vostu is blatantly copying its most popular games.
Social gaming giant Zynga (FarmVille, Words With Friends) filed a lawsuit Thursday claiming that social gaming start-up Vostu is blatantly copying its most popular games. According to the complaint, Vostu "recognized Zynga’s success and developed a scheme by which they would copy Zynga’s specific business model and product strategy, including accessing, copying and using Zynga’s copyrights in its games to create near-identical games and holding them out as Vostu games." As the myriad examples in the complaint show, the similarities go well beyond the actual games: according to Zynga, Vostu's logo, character designs, mission statement ("connecting the world through games" vs. "to bring you closer to the people around you through games") and even philanthropic charity sites (compare Zynga.org to Vostu.org) are nearly identical to those produced by Zynga. The cloned games even reproduce bugs in Zynga's originals: according to the company, Vostu's MegaCity doesn't require the in-game "community building" to be connected to roads in order to function, unlike all other buildings in the game. The same mistake appears in CityVille. "It is one thing to be inspired by Zynga games, but it is entirely different to copy all of our key product features, product strategy, branding, mission statement and employee benefits lock, stock and barrel," Zynga general counsel Reggie Davis told TechCrunch. "We welcome Vostu into the arena of social games, but blatant infringement of our creative works is not an acceptable business strategy -- it is a violation of the law." Vostu responded to the suit in a statement to VentureBeat, calling the complaint "frivolous" and saying that Zynga has "lost the ability" to recognize original games after being "accused of copying so many games" itself. "Zynga’s anti-competitive effort to bully us with a frivolous lawsuit -- especially when we have some of the same key investors -- is pathetic," the response continued. "While Zynga plays games with the legal process we will continue focusing on using our substantial resources to create games that entertain our customers." The full lawsuit, which contains many pictorial examples, is available here.

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