Can A Company Claim Exclusive Use of the Term “VILLE”


Zynga Game Network Inc. is in the computer game software business. You may not recognize its products from its corporate name but it is the creator of Farmville®. Farmville® is an extremely popular online real-time simulation game available on Facebook® and the Apple iPhone®. When playing the game, users are responsible for managing a virtual farm. Zynga is also the manufacturer of other simulation games, such as, CityVille, FishVille, FrontierVille, PetVille, and YoVille.

Blingville, LLC, another computer game software company, intends to launch a virtual game on Facebook® called BLINGVILLE®. When Zynga found out about this it objected and sent a number of cease and desist letters to Blingville. In the letters, Zynga alleges Blingville is infringing on its trademark rights when it uses of the letters “ville” in its name and on its game. Zynga claims ownership of the term “ville” based on its family of games ending in the suffix “ville” (mentioned above). Zynga does not own any trademarks for BLING or BLINGVILLE but it believes Blingville’s use of the suffix “ville” is likely to lead consumers to believe the two companies are somehow related or that Zynga endorses or sponsors Blingville’s product. In response to Zynga’s demand letters Blingville filed a law suit with the District Court of West Virginia. In the suit Blingville asks the Court to enter a judgment that declares use of the mark BLINGSVILLE is not trademark infringement.

Will Zynga has enough to claim exclusive ownership of the term “ville?” Looks like we will have to wait and see. FARMVILLE® is a registered trademark of Zynga Game Network Inc.

FACEBOOK® is a registered trademark of Facebook, Inc.

APPLE iPhone® is a registered trademark of Apple, Inc.

BLINGVILLE® is a registered trademark of Blingville, LLC

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