TLC Sues Zynga Over 'Oregon Trail' Missions in FrontierVille

May 19, 2011 -

The Learning Company, a Houghton Mifflin Harcourt subsidiary, has filed a lawsuit against Zynga in the Massachusetts district court over "Oregon Trail" missions in its Facebook game FrontierVille. The complaint alleges that Zynga is infringing on its classic educational game Oregon Trail and seeks an immediate injunction to halt Zynga's missions while the court sorts the whole mess.

The lawsuit uses a YouTube trailer of Zynga's missions as evidence that the similarities between them and its classic game - now also a Facebook game - are striking.

TLC says in its complaint that the social game maker's use of its intilectual property is "deliberate theft of the goodwill associated with the iconic The Oregon Trail Mark, which the company has spent millions of dollars promoting since 1971."

"There can be no doubt that Zynga’s adoption of an identical and confusingly similar mark is willful and intended to free-ride on the established goodwill of The Oregon Trail Mark," the document continues.

The complaint also alleges that TLC had approached Zynga in 2010 to discuss making a Facebook version of the game, but the negotiations fell through. TLC ended up partnering with Blue Fang to make a Facebook version of the game, which launched in February. Zynga went on to create its own set of "Oregon Trail" missions on its own.

Besides the preliminary injunction, TLC is seeking monetary damages. You can read the full complaint here.

Source: Universal Hub by way of Gamasutra


Comments

Re: TLC Sues Zynga Over 'Oregon Trail' Missions in ...

I know we all have fond memories of The Oregon Trail but the Oregon trail is used to refer to the route settlers took from the east while settling the west coast of these United States. TLC does not have a monopoly on that term. I can understand their copyright claim but really the game isn't called "The Oregon Trail", these are just add-on missions called "Oregon Trail" missions. Well what do you want them to call it? The damn route was called the Oregon Trail, of course that is what name they'll choose. If Zygna's game was called Oregon Trail then it would be a clear cut case. But its not, it is called Frontierville. These are add on missions about, guess what, the Oregon Trail. Not a violation of TLC's copyright, in my IANAL opinion.

Re: TLC Sues Zynga Over 'Oregon Trail' Missions in ...

Hey TLC, release a classic emulation, non-battery draining portable version of Oregon Trail on a phone, and I might put my world's smallest violin down to consider supporting your cause.

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Andrew EisenAnd exacerbating everything is the fact that all the cries of ethics violations have been obnoxious and easily proven false.09/18/2014 - 8:59pm
Andrew EisenProblem is, I would imagine, the sheer number of people who are using journalistic integrity as a cover for their harassing actions or only bringing it up on the false pretense of journalistic integrity.09/18/2014 - 8:47pm
Andrew EisenHaving said that, I can certainly see how one would be frustrated if they truly just wanted to talk about journalistic integrity and someone said they were one of the people harassing Sarkeesian, Quinn and others (though I've seen no examples of that).09/18/2014 - 8:44pm
KronoThat's been the common refrain, that talk of journalism ethics is just an excuse to harass people.09/18/2014 - 8:44pm
KronoLines like "like a partial compromise with the howling trolls who’ve latched onto ‘ethics’ as the latest flag in their onslaught against evolution and inclusion." are taring everyone questioning the ethics as a harasser.09/18/2014 - 8:43pm
Andrew EisenKrono - Except, none of the articles were talking about gamers complaining about journalist ethics, let alone called them white male misogynists. They were talking about the gamers who were harassing others.09/18/2014 - 8:36pm
Kronomakes plenty of sense. It's rather hard to dismiss someone as a white guy running a sock puppet when they've posted proof they're a woman, or black, or another minority.09/18/2014 - 8:32pm
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Andrew EisenSleaker - Not sure what that has to do with anything but yeah, the gender percentages differ depending on how the study defines what a gamer is.09/18/2014 - 8:32pm
KronoThe rhetoric pushed by the spearheading articles that the "gamers" complaining about journalist ethics were just angry white male misogynists, insulted a lot of people that were previously fairly neutral. It made it go from a Kotaku problem, to a09/18/2014 - 8:31pm
Krono@Andrew I'm not surprised overlap exists. I expect much of it is a rush to jump on the bandwagon, either by reporting on the original articles, or rushing out their own. The point is that was a major flashpoint, much bigger than the reddit mass deletion.09/18/2014 - 8:31pm
Sleaker@AE - well the gamer trend was described with stats on Factual Femenist. Only 1 in 7 males plays games 20+ hrs going into college vs 1 in 40 females. So gaming is definitely still male dominated despite fake stats trying to say otherwise.09/18/2014 - 8:30pm
Craig R.Do conspiracies ever make sense? The fact that people are now having to defend themselves against nutjob websites like Breitbart.com shows how far down into the rabbit hole we've all been forcibly dragged.09/18/2014 - 7:05pm
Michael ChandraBut when the mountain obviously exists...09/18/2014 - 5:49pm
Michael ChandraMind you, if someone makes a mountain out of a molehill with a secret agenda as motive, it'd be fine.09/18/2014 - 5:48pm
Andrew EisenOkay, so I guess I'm not making sense of #notyourshield because it doesn't make any sense.09/18/2014 - 5:28pm
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Andrew EisenMost are really just a look at the crap that happened the previous day when Sarkeesian's new video came out and almost all are exceedingly clear that they're talking about the specific gamers who are being obnoxious.09/18/2014 - 5:17pm
 

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