Klein & Wilson

EA, Zynga resolve copyright dispute over alleged 'Sims' theft

Copyright law is something that creative companies take very seriously, so when they suspect another company of stealing the product or concept, some choose to take legal action. That is exactly what happened last summer in California when Electronic Arts accused Zynga of copyright infringement.

In August 2012, EA sued Zynga claiming it had created an "unmistakable copy" of its Facebook game The Sims Social. Zynga's game is called The Ville. Further, EA accused Zynga of recruiting and hiring several EA executives who had access to information about the game. The lawsuit went on to attempt to show that Zynga had exhibited a pattern of copying its competitors' work. The litigation did not stop there.

Zynga stepped up to the plate and countersued EA, saying its CEO had suggested creating a pact between the two companies saying that they could not hire each other's employees. Zynga did not agree to the arrangement.

Today, however, it was reported that the two gaming companies have settled their legal disputes in the Northern District of California. The court still needs to approve the settlement details -- which have not been made public yet -- but for now it seems the waters have calmed.

As this copyright dispute and many others clearly show, companies place immense value on their original work. When they feel as though another company has copied their ideas, filing a lawsuit often follows. Copyright infringement cases can be very complex, so it's important that those on either side of a lawsuit have a good understanding of the relevant legal terrain. Most companies choose to work with an attorney who is experienced in business law and can guide them through the litigation process.

Source: Polygon, "EA and Zynga reach settlement in The Ville copyright infringement lawsuit," Samit Sarkar, Feb. 15, 2013

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