Publishing giant Electronic Arts has announced that it has filed a lawsuit against the recently-struggling social games publisher Zynga for alleged copyright infringement. EA filed the lawsuit on behalf of its subsidiary, Maxis.
The game in question is Zynga’s The Ville, a Facebook title which, according to EA, “copied the original and distinctive expressive elements” of Maxis’s The Sims Social “in a clear violation of the U.S. copyright laws.”
“The similarities go well beyond any superficial resemblance,” said general manager of the Maxis label Lucy Bradshaw. “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.”
“This is a case of principle,” Bradshaw added. “Maxis isn’t the first studio to claim that Zynga copied its creative product. But we are the studio that has the financial and corporate resources to stand up and do something about it.
“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.”
Zynga’s general counsel Reggie Davis responded to the action with the following statement sent to multiple press outlets: “We are committed to creating the most fun, innovative, social and engaging games in every major genre that our players enjoy. The Ville is the newest game in our ‘ville’ franchise – it builds on every major innovation from our existing invest-and-express games dating back to YoVille and continuing through CityVille and CastleVille, and introduces a number of new social features and game mechanics not seen in social games today.
“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. It’s also ironic that EA brings this suit shortly after launching SimCity Social which bears an uncanny resemblance to Zynga’s CityVille game. Nonetheless, we plan to defend our rights to the fullest extent possible and intend to win with players.”
By Jeff Dunn