EA Files Copyright Lawsuit Against Zynga
August 4, 2012

EA Sues Zynga Over Alleged Copyright Infringement

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

One of the giants of social gaming is being accused of copyright infringement by Electronic Arts (EA), which claims that certain key elements from their "The Sims Social" title have been blatantly copied in a competing product released by the alleged offender.

According to Reuters reporters Malathi Nayak and Gerry Shih the Redwood City, California-based game publisher has filed a 40-page document in which they allege that Zynga ripped off elements of EA's title and used them as part of their own social game "The Ville." Among the elements Zynga supposedly has copied are a collection of eight unique personality types for characters, select character actions including conversing and dancing, and even the eight different skin tones available for in-game avatars.

"As outlined in our complaint, when The Ville was introduced in June 2012, the infringement of The Sims Social was unmistakable to those of us at Maxis [an EA subsidiary] as well as to players and the industry at large," Lucy Bradshaw, the general manager of Maxis, said in a statement, according to Jason Schreier of Kotaku.

"The similarities go well beyond any superficial resemblance. Zynga's design choices, animations, visual arrangements and character motions and actions have been directly lifted from The Sims Social. The copying was so comprehensive that the two games are, to an uninitiated observer, largely indistinguishable," she added. "Infringing a developer's copyright is not an acceptable practice in game development. By calling Zynga out on this illegal practice, we hope to have a secondary effect of protecting the rights of other creative studios who don't have the resources to protect themselves."

EA is looking for the case to be tried by a jury, and is seeking damages as well as all of the profits made by their San Francisco-based rivals based on the alleged copyright infringement, Eric Abent of Slashgear reported on Friday. The case is Electronic Arts v. Zynga, 12-4099 and it has been filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, Bloomberg Businessweek's Karen Gullo added.

"It´s unfortunate that EA thought that this was an appropriate response to our game, and clearly demonstrates a lack of understanding of basic copyright principles," Zynga general counsel Reggie Davis told Gullo via email on Friday. "It´s also ironic that EA brings this suit shortly after launching SimCity Social, which bears an uncanny resemblance to Zynga´s CityVille game."

"We plan to defend our rights to the fullest extent possible," Davis also told Reuters.