Casual gaming company Digital Chocolate has just filed suit against Zynga, the leader in social gaming, because it says it owns the exclusive rights to the name “Mafia Wars.”
Zynga’s Facebook game Mafia Wars has become an instant success on the social networking site, allowing users to run their own family crime operation and recruit their real-life friends.
The game’s success isn’t sitting too well with Digital Chocolate, though, since it laid claim to that game title first.
According to court documents, Digital Chocolate is suing Zynga because it “falsely claimed to the public, the United States Patent Office and the courts that it ‘coined’ the Mafia Wars mark and owns superior rights to the mark.”
Digital Chocolate goes on to allege that it notified Zynga of the name conflict last year and received a written response that Zynga would stop using the name. It didn’t.
Instead, Zynga went on a multi-million dollar campaign spree with its Mafia Wars game, making it now arguably the company’s most well-known game behind Farmville.
Digital Chocolate is asking the California Northern District Court of Santa Clara to issue an injunction ordering Zynga to stop using the Mafia Wars name, and to spend more money than it spent promoting the game in “corrective advertising,” reports CourthouseNews.com.
Digital Chocolate’s Mafia Wars is an old cell phone game that gained very little traction. It does however hold a trademark to that title.
UPDATE: Zynga has publicly responded to the lawsuit, saying, “We are surprised and disappointed by Digital Chocolate’s lawsuit. The timing of the action appears to be opportunistic, and we plan to defend ourselves vigorously.”