EA Suing Zynga over Copyright Infringement
Let’s just cut to the chase on this one: mega-publisher Electronic Arts is suing the daylights out of publisher Zynga—and for copyright infringement, no less.
Though it’s been debated over the years what games are left that Zynga hasn’t taken “inspiration” from, this particular lawsuit began around EA’s The Sims Social and Zynga’s The Ville, when EA stated that Zynga’s game “copied and misappropriated the original and distinctive expressive elements” of their title of similar (if not exact) nature.
Below is a statement released to Kotaku from EA’s own Lucy Bradshaw:
“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 as well as to players and the industry at large. 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. Scores of media and bloggers commented on the blatant mimicry.
This is a case of principle. 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.
Today, we hope to be taking a stand that helps the industry protect the value of original creative works and those that work tirelessly to create them.”
Following up on EA’s move, Zynga promptly released the following statement:
“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.”
Opinion alert, opinion alert: Come now Zynga, are you honestly going to accuse Electronic Arts of exactly what your company has blatantly done for years? Given that SimCity Social has been in development for some time, and it was well publicized and documented (and as an incredibly well-established franchise), it’s not as though you simply came across the innovative idea yourself to bring the city-building genre to a social platform — you simply made the move quicker.
Zynga doesn’t have this alone to worry about when it comes to issues of legal trouble, as the company (in the same week) also stumbled into a sticky situation regarding insider trading of corporate stock. This class-action lawsuit claims that some Zynga executives were aware that the company’s stock would fall sharply back in April, a steep $500 million drop to be precise.
If you have it in you to read over 50 pages of line-numbered court documents, feel free to hit up the full scans hosted in Kotaku’s article. Also, drop your thoughts below — we know how much you love talking about companies and what they do with their money.