Zynga Inc (ZNGA) Has Already Been Protecting Its ‘With Friends’ Mark


It was revealed on Wednesday that Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA) filed a lawsuit against developers of the casual sex app Bang with Friends. Now TechCrunch reminds us of previous threats against companies using the phrase “with friends” in their names. Anthony Ha takes us back to a previous complaint Zynga made against the dating website CupidWithFriends.

Zynga allows CupidWithFriends to continue

Earlier this year, Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA) apparently sent a letter to Apartment 7, the startup which runs the CupidWithFriends site. The letter stated that the company had until May 24 to change the name of the website.

Ha checked with Apartment 7 co-founder Jared Tame and discovered that the company never heard back from Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA). It sent a letter to the company refusing to change the name of the site and stating that if Zynga did not respond, that would “signal a mutual agreement” that Apartment 7 would not get into gaming and that Zynga wouldn’t pursue any further legal action against them.

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Zynga has been talking with Bang with Friends for awhile

According to Ha, he checked in with Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA) and Bang with Friends in May because the same complaint would seem to apply to the sex app. However, neither company responded to his inquiries. He believes they were already having talks about the issue at that time.

The suit filed by Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA) doesn’t outline the timing of anything, but it does indicate that there had been “significant” attempts by the company to get in touch with the founders of Bang with Friends. The suit also says that either the discussions the company held with Zynga were either “a ploy” or that the founders reconsidered whether they wanted to change the name of their app.

Zynga protects its “with friends” franchise

The suit also refers to other times when Zynga Inc (NASDAQ:ZNGA) “policed its rights” for the “with friends” mark. The company said it has reached out to companies which have infringed on its right and also in some case instituted opposition proceedings with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Zynga holds the rights to the “with friends” mark in connection with “computer game software and entertainment services.” It was granted those rights in June.

So the question remains about why Bang with Friends would be sued but not CupidwithFriends, and it seems clear that the answer deals with gaming. The operator of the dating website said they wouldn’t go into gaming, but the lawsuit filed by Zynga against Bang with Friends indicates that an investor in the app has revealed that the company intends to “expand its infringing activities aggressively.” In other words, it could be planning a foray into gaming or other entertainment areas.

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