Zynga files suit against Bang With Friends over trademark infringement

By on July 31, 2013, 5:15 PM
facebook, lawsuit, zynga, trademark, infringement, bang with friends

Zynga isn’t going down without a fight, especially when they feel someone is infringing on their trademark. The social games provider recently filed a lawsuit in a California district court against the developers of “Bang With Friends,” a service that describes itself as an anonymous way to hook up with your Facebook friends.

With the app, users are asked to sign in with their Facebook credentials, select the friends they are interested in hooking up with and the app does the rest. If there are any matches, Bang With Friends will notify both users via e-mail and, well, the rest is up to you.

Zynga isn’t game, however, not due to the sexual nature of the app but rather the company’s use of “With Friends,” a trademark they claim to own belonging to their family of games. In a message on the matter, Zynga said they filed suit to protect their hard-earned intellectual property rights from the defendant’s opportunistic exploitation of their trademark.

Bang With Friends co-founder Colin Hodge said his company heard through media reports that Zynga filed a trademark infringement claim against them. As a technology company, Hodge said they take intellectual property seriously and will evaluate the case in detail once they receive a copy of the complaint.

The lawsuit points out that Zynga initially approached the company through informal efforts although talks eventually fell through. Zynga believes those negotiations were either a ploy to buy time or perhaps Bang With Friends changed their mind after receiving considerable media attention.




User Comments: 10

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1 person liked this | Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Really?

"With Friends"...

I honestly hope this gets laughed out of court...

1 person liked this | BlueDrake said:

Having a trademark on that, is laughable because really.. you could put "X with friends" in a general sentence. Would they start coming after individuals, because we used their 'trademark' wording? This is getting to the point of silly nonsense, might as well trademark every single word before big companies do it. Of course you'll be possibly hit with all sorts of issues, trying to trademark pretty much anything.

Someone should trademark some insult against Zynga, just to put it out there as a reminder trademark laws are needing to be given a proper looking at. Not just a once over by skimming past the majority of things, pretending that it's just fine and needs no adjustments.

St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

Actually, you guys should do research on Zynga before saying "with friends, how ridiculous".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zynga

These guys have studios and six games containing 'With Friends'. Band With Friends is used in a way that can only be seen as a Zynga product - one which they want no affiliation with. This lawsuit is perfectly valid and I'd be surprised if Zynga actually lost.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Facebook was founded around the concept of connecting with friends. So was many other social networking application that go back over 15 years. I'd bet "Hugh Hefner" is laughing his a__ off over this "Bang With Friends" trademark issue.

Guest said:

They own the name of their products and if someone use it with the proper rights ok they can sue but they cannot monopolize all the quotes that use "with friends", they cant own normal and regular words on the language, its only for their especific product and use of it....its like trying to patent the air and if they dont like it they can sue everyone? No Mames its preposterous

1 person liked this | ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I see here and on the SkyDrive item that some people don't understand trademarks.

Trademarks are words (or phrases, or designs) which a buyer associates with a specific origin. "Star Wars", "Samsung", etc. are trademarks.

If users can mistakenly consider a product to be produced by someone due to a name similar to a trademark, then that can be considered infringement. This is only relevant inside a class of products, so if a food is called "apple" or an animated character is called "Apple" or a tech company is called "Apple", there's no ground for confusion.

In this case Zynga thinks that Bang With Friends may be mistakenly considered to come from it, because of similarity in name to its products, and that's grounds for the suit.

Similarly British people did get confused about SkyDrive, even though Sky didn't have a product with this exact name, so that was grounds for a suit.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Trademarks are words (or phrases, or designs) which a buyer associates with a specific origin. "Star Wars", "Samsung", etc. are trademarks.
Yes and here the trademark is "Zynga".

ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Yes and here the trademark is "Zynga".

Not at all. The colour brown is a trademark of UPS, did you know that?

A trademark doesn't apply just to the company name or its logo, it applies to its products. It applies to Star Wars and Mickey Mouse and to The Elder Scrolls. It's a distinctive mark related to the company.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Not at all. The colour brown is a trademark of UPS, did you know that?
And I pay tribute to UPS every time I take a crap. Which is a perfect representation of how I feel, toward these trademark/patent conflicts. A waste of time and resources, that could be better spent elsewhere.

When I see "brown" or even read the word "brown", I do not think of UPS. I think of UPS when I see "UPS". Do they also have a trademark on the size of their transports? The size of the transport is just as relevant as the color.

St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

And I pay tribute to UPS every time I take a crap. Which is a perfect representation of how I feel, toward these trademark/patent conflicts. A waste of time and resources, that could be better spent elsewhere.

When I see "brown" or even read the word "brown", I do not think of UPS. I think of UPS when I see "UPS". Do they also have a trademark on the size of their transports? The size of the transport is just as relevant as the color.

If there was another delivery firm called UPZ and it had brown as their main color, this would be trademark (and more) infringement.

The trademark on this case is the "[Product] With Friends". There is reasonable doubt that Bang With Friends could be considered a Zynga product, hence the lawsuit.

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