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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