Monday, August 29, 2011

Zynga v. Vostu

Social gaming litigation is heating up between Zynga and a Brazilian competitor Vostu. Zynga has become incredibly popular pursuant to games that it has developed for use on the Facebook platform. FarmVille is perhaps the best known.

Zynga alleges that Vostu has copied its popular games and offered carbon copies to internet users, most residing in Brazil. Vostu's defense thus far has been nothing more than that Zynga is a bad actor as well, having infringed numerous copyrights itself.

The most interesting aspects of this case appear to be procedural. That is because Zynga filed suit for copyright infringement in both the United States and Brazil. Vostu sought an injunction from the American court staying the Brazilian case while awaiting the outcome of the American case. That strategy may be because Vostu likely generates the bulk of its income in Brazil. Also, surprisingly, things aren't going too well for Vostu in its home ballpark of Brazil.

Initially, the American Court granted Vostu's request with a temporary restraining order. However, the Court reversed course and ruled recently that Zynga's Brazilian case may now go forward at the same time as the American case. Zynga's lawyers successfully argued that simultaneous litigation may proceed because copyrights are territorial in nature. Additionally, Zynga is not seeking duplicative monetary damages, different markets hence different monetary damages.

This case is interesting going forward because we are likely to see many more similar cases. Copyright infringement is one of the real dangers for new media content producers like Zynga. Many times, infringers feel emboldened by residency outside of the United States. Zynga's aggressive two track litigation approach may re-make the international copyright enforcement playbook. Two negatives of simultaneous copyright infringement actions may be inconsistent results and increased legal expense. Internet law firms will be watching this case closely.

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