San Diego Trademark Attorney® Blog

February 2013 Archives

'FarmVille' Creator Sues Competitor for Infringing VILLE Trademark

February 21, 2013,

zynga.jpgSan Diego - "FarmVille" owner Zynga Inc. filed a lawsuit against Imagenesis Corp. claiming that the company's soon-to-be-released "MafiaVille" game infringes its VILLE trademarks.

Zynga filed the lawsuit in Maryland federal court on Tuesday, alleging Imagenesis' use of the name MafiaVille will infringe several trademarks Zynga owns in connection to its social media games such as "CityVille," "PetVille," "FrontierVille" and "FarmVille."
Zynga claimed that over 65 million people play its "Ville" games each month on various platforms including Facebook and mobile phone apps and that consumers have associated the VILLE trademarks with Zynga long before Imagenesis even thought of the name MafiaVille.

In December 2010, Zynga discovered that Imagenesis had registered the domain name and was using the website to promote the "MafiaVille" game. Zynga sent Imagenesis a cease and desist letter to notify Imagenesis of its trademark rights and to demand that it stop using the name.

Imagenesis chose to continue use of the name and filed a trademark application for MAFIAVILLE with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Imagenesis also filed for a declaratory judgment in Maryland federal court asking for a ruling that the name MafiaVille does not infringe or dilute Zynga's trademarks. However, Imagenesis failed to have counsel appear on its behalf and the action was dismissed.

In the complaint, Zynga alleged that not only did Imagenesis know of Zynga's success with its various Ville games in the social gaming sphere before naming its game "MafiaVille," but also that Imagenesis actually chose the name in order to benefit from Zynga's success with its "Ville" games and its game "Mafia Wars."

The company alleged that the name MafiaVille is likely to cause confusion and deceive players into thinking that the game is either made by Zynga or is in some way connected with it. Zynga also claimed that as Imagenesis is aware of Zynga's VILLE trademarks, Imagenesis is willfully infringing its trademarks and is attempting to take advantage of the goodwill Zynga has spent years developing.

Zynga is alleging trademark infringement, dilution, false designation of origin and unfair competition. The company is seeking to block the MAFIAVILLE trademark, an injunction preventing Imagenesis from using the name, damages, Imagenesis' profits earned from using the name and treble damages.

Does "Chocolate Kiss" Colored Flooring Infringe on Hershey's Trademarks?

February 8, 2013,

hershey_kisses.jpgSan Diego - Shaw Industries Group Inc., a carpet manufacturer owned by Berkshire Hathaway Inc, filed a complaint for declaratory relief requesting that a Georgia federal court issue a judgment that the carpet color it calls "Chocolate Kiss" does not infringe The Hershey Co.'s "Kisses" and "Hershey's Kisses" trademarks.

In the complaint, Shaw claims that Hershey has threatened it with a lawsuit over the name, despite the fact that Shaw has used the name for over two decades without any indication of confusion between the products or the companies.

"Declaratory relief is proper in this case because it will clarify and settle the actual, present dispute between the parties as to whether the plaintiffs use of the 'Chocolate Kiss' name violates defendant's rights in its Kiss trademarks," the complaint said. "It will allow Shaw to continue its regular business without fear of incurring further loss, as well as the uncertainty, insecurity and controversy giving rise to this action."

On December 19, 2012, counsel for Hershey sent a cease and desist letter to Shaw demanding that it cease use of the name, claiming that the carpet color name constitutes infringement and dilutes the KISS trademarks owned by Hershey.

Though Shaw introduced the color in January of 1993 and used the name to describe the color for over 200 styles of flooring distributed worldwide, Shaw claims it had never been made aware of any consumer confusion between the name of the carpet color and chocolate Hershey's Kisses. It also alleges that Hershey had never requested it cease using the name before the December cease and desist letter.

Shaw claims it responded to the letter and informed Hershey it had already planned to phase out the "Chocolate Kiss" carpet color and would no longer be using the name by June of this year. The company also claimed in its response that Hershey had in no way shown there was any confusion between the two products.

Hershey responded with another cease and desist letter on January 24th requesting a signed agreement from Shaw that it would cease using the "Chocolate Kiss" name immediately and demanding that it surrender all infringing goods by February 8.
Shaw is requesting that the court issue a declaratory judgment that it is not infringing or diluting Hershey's trademarks and that Hershey essentially agreed to its use of the name by not challenging it for twenty years.