EA files copyright suit against Zynga over 'The Sims Social'

But Zynga noted that an EA game looks very much like a product in its -Ville franchise

Electronic Arts has sued Zynga, developer of the popular -Ville brand of social media games, alleging that the company violated EA copyright pertaining to its Facebook game "The Sims Social," EA said Friday.

"The Ville," Zynga's Facebook game, "copied the original and distinctive expressive elements of The Sims Social in a clear violation of the U.S. copyright laws," wrote Lucy Bradshaw, general manager of EA's Maxis Label, which develops The Sims franchise, in a blog post.

The similarities between "The Ville" and "The Sims Social" are so numerous that "an uninitiated observer" wouldn't be able to tell them apart, she wrote. "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 post reads.

According to figures provided by EA, Facebook users have flocked to "The Sims Social," which debuted in August 2011. The company said several million people play the Facebook version of the popular "The Sims" game, which allows people to simulate lives in a virtual city.

"The Ville," introduced in June, builds on technology found in previous -Ville games, such as "CityVille" and "CastleVille," said Reggie David, Zynga's general counsel, in an emailed statement. David went on to say that "SimCity Social" bears "an uncanny resemblance to Zynga's CityVille game." Zynga's -Ville line allows people to create virtual lives in various settings.

"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" and Zynga will defend its rights "to the fullest extent possible," the statement said.

EA's lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

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Fred O'Connor

IDG News Service
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