Zynga: Cruella de Ville?

Zynga (Nasdaq: ZNGA  ) is starting to get territorial.

The social-gaming giant is suing European rival Kobojo for trademark infringement. Zynga claims that the name of Kobojo's PyramidVille treads on the empire of "Ville"-named games that it has put out over the years.

The initial instinct is to laugh at Zynga's legal eagle maneuver. Is this case being tried in the Supreme Court of Irony? Zynga is a company that has made a living out of blatantly ripping off other successes.

  • Words With Friends is obviously a clone of Scrabble.
  • Scramble With Friends is a Boggle knockoff.
  • Its recently acquired Draw Something is little more than Pictionary.

Zynga also isn't the first company to slap "Ville" at the end of a noun. Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN  ) had the short-lived Askville and Questville Q&A sites before Zynga was even born, and that's just one of the many online examples.

One also has to wonder why Zynga would draw attention to a rival game. Right now on Facebook, PyramidVille is attracting 810,000 monthly unique players. That's a pittance when stacked against CityVille's population of 39.7 million and the 24.1 million virtual farmhands on FarmVille.

Zynga also doesn't seem to have a problem growing its business despite the Kobojo game that was introduced on Facebook last year, but went mobile when a version for Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) iPod touch, iPhone, and iPad came out in January.

Zynga's first-quarter results featured a better-than-expected adjusted profit of $0.06 a share on a 32% surge in revenue.

However, it's also easy to see where Zynga's coming from. PyramidVille is a lot like FarmVille. There are a few casual games in the mix that are far from what Zynga's been doing with its "Ville" titles, though a small part of the game involves the same harvesting of crops for points.

Obviously FarmVille wasn't the first game to involve harvests or rely on social sharing to grow in viral popularity, but Zynga is the one that has excelled here.

Zynga will never be able to apply for trademarks for all of the possible game titles ending in "Ville," so it may as well go after one of the bigger success stories. Even if Zynga falls short judicially -- which is a strong possibility -- it may be enough to dissuade smaller developers from bleeding their legal resources dry if they attempt a similar move.

Gnaw something
Even though the next trillion dollar revolution will be in mobile, it may not involve Zynga. A free special report will get you up to speed.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz calls them as he sees them. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.

The Motley Fool owns shares of Amazon.com. The Fool owns shares of Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple and Amazon.com. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.


Read/Post Comments (0) | Recommend This Article (2)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

Be the first one to comment on this article.

Sponsored Links

Leaked: Apple's Next Smart Device
(Warning, it may shock you)
The secret is out... experts are predicting 458 million of these types of devices will be sold per year. 1 hyper-growth company stands to rake in maximum profit - and it's NOT Apple. Show me Apple's new smart gizmo!

DocumentId: 1880908, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 8/30/2014 12:21:57 PM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...


Advertisement