Stephen S. Wu-- SL: Legal Writer, swu@ckwlaw.com, (650) 917-8045, 166 Main Street, Los Altos, CA 94022

Electronic Arts Sues Zynga for Copyright Infringement

Earlier this month, Electronic Arts sued Zynga for copyright infringement in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. The case concerns EA’s online game called “The Sims Social,” which is offered on the Facebook platform. Zynga has a competing Facebook game called “The Ville.” EA alleges that the The Ville is a clone of The Sims Social. EA’s complaint alleges only a single claim -- copyright infringement. For a copy of the complaint, click here. Read More...
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MegaUpload Case-DOJ Seeks to Stop File Sharing Service

Last month, in January 2012, the government indicted MegaUpload, a file storage service, and its operators, including a man who named himself Kim Dotcom, for alleged copyright infringement and money laundering on a massive scale. In the indictment filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, the government contended that people were uploading massive amounts of copyrighted content without authorization and that the company and its operators were making millions from premium memberships and online advertising. The government also alleged that the company paid and encouraged people to upload copyrighted content. Read More...
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Bethesda Softworks Loses Fallout Case

It isn’t very often that a video game case ends up in a decision of a federal appellate court. So, I read with some interest the recent (unpublished) decision in Bethesda Softworks, L.L.C. v. Interplay Entertainment Corp., No. 11-1860, 2011 WL 5084587 (4th Cir. Oct. 26, 2011) (per curiam). Bethesda had feuded with Interplay concerning trademark issues in a couple of federal district court opinions. The appellate decision, however, concerned Bethesda’s copyright claims against Interplay. Bethesda had sought a preliminary injunction against Interplay, lost in the district court, and took an immediate appeal. The court of appeals affirmed. The court of appeals’ decision concerned the standard for preliminary injunctive relief and emphasized that irreparable harm to the copyright owner cannot be presumed merely because of a likelihood of success on the merits. Read More...
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Eros v. Linden - Case Closed

Without much fanfare, the Eros v. Linden Research case closed quietly in March 2011. Two named plaintiffs filed this putative class action, Eros, LLC and Shannon Grei, both of whom offer products on the Second Life® virtual world. The plaintiffs contended that Linden Research did not do enough to protect their intellectual property rights, and in fact had profited from infringements. In March, Eros and Grei both filed stipulated dismissals of their claims with prejudice, which means that they cannot later refile their action. Apparently, the parties entered into a settlement, and the plaintiffs dismissed their action in carrying out the settlement. Read More...
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When Do Violations of Terms of Use Give Rise to a Software Copyright Claim?

Last December, the Ninth Circuit decided MDY Industries, LLC v. Blizzard Entertainment, Inc., which discussed, among other things, the circumstances under which a user’s violation of an online software application company’s terms of service can constitute copyright infringement. In February, the court amended its opinion by adding a footnote. 628 F.3d 928 (9th Cir. 2010), amended and superseded and reh’g denied, 2011 WL 538748 (9th Cir. Feb. 17, 2011). For a copy of the amended opinion, click here.
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The Price of Piracy

The price of a little piracy can be rather steep, as proved in a recent California case. Blizzard Entertainment recently won an $88.5 million judgment against a woman running a business called Scapegaming that allowed players to play Blizzard’s World of Warcraft game without paying for it. Blizzard obtained the judgment in September in a case entitled Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. v. Alyson Reeves, d/b/a Scapegaming, No. CV 09-7621 SVW (AJWx), pending in the United States District Court for the Central District of California. For a copy of the order fixing the amount of damages, click here. For a copy of the judgment, click here. Read More...
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Playfish v. Rackspace Case Dismissed

Back in September 2009, Playfish, Ltd., since acquired by Electronic Arts, sued San Antonio-based hosting company Rackspace Hosting, Inc. and GosuMall Digital Entertainment, a Singapore company, alleging that GosuMall was selling trademarked in-game items from Playfish's Pet Society game, in violation of Playfish's Terms of Service. Over the summer, the Court dismissed the case for plaintiff’s failure to pursue the suit. Read More...
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Eros v. Linden Research Update

The Eros v. Linden Research case has been quiet over the summer, with few filings. The most important recent development in the case concerns the status of the case as a class action. The plaintiffs apparently decided not to try to certify the case as a class action, proceeding instead on the individual claims of the named plaintiffs. The Court has also held a number of case management conferences in the matter. Read More...
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Virtual Property Suits in a Holding Pattern

I have been following the Playfish v. Rackspace case since the complaint was filed and the initial filings in the Eros v. Linden cases, but both seem to be in a holding pattern. Both cases involve important issues, and I hope to see some arguments on the substantive law from both cases. Read More...
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All Quiet in Playfish v. Rackspace

I recently checked the docket again in the Playfish v. Rackspace case. See the post here concerning the filing of the complaint in that case last fall. The case has seen no filings, except for one, since the first month of the case, although the docket would not show some of the evidence gathering the parties may be conducting at the moment. Nonetheless, the parties should be undergoing the case management process, which should yield some filings. Consequently, there is some chance the parties are trying to settle the matter, or it has not been in Playfish’s interest to pursue it. Read More...
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Eros v. Linden Update

The Eros v. Linden suit appears to have been relatively quiet since the Lindens answered the Eros complaint in November. The most important development to report is the fact that the parties are moving forward with discovery and held a meeting to work out discovery and case management issues. They filed a case management statement reporting the results of their meeting. For a copy of the statement, click here. Read More...
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Playfish to be Acquired by Electronic Arts

Electronic Arts announced that it will acquire Playfish, which has been pursuing a suit against San Antonio-based hosting company Rackspace Hosting, Inc. and GosuMall Digital Entertainment, a Singapore company. Playfish alleges that GosuMall is selling in-game items in an alleged violation of the Playfish terms of service, and that Rackspace is liable as well for hosting the GosuMall website at which it is selling the products. Read More...
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Lindens Answer the Eros, LLC Complaint

On October 30, 2009, Linden Research, Inc. and Linden Research International, Inc. filed an answer to the Complaint asserted against them by Eros, LLC and Shannon Grei in the Northern District of California. The Lindens had the option of filing a motion to test the legal sufficiency of the Complaint, move the Court to dismiss for some other reason, or answer the Complaint. And the Lindens chose to answer the Complaint (without filing a counterclaim against the plaintiffs). Read More...
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Report on Playfish v. Rackspace Complaint

On September 14, 2009, London social gaming company Playfish, Ltd., sued San Antonio-based hosting company Rackspace Hosting, Inc. and GosuMall Digital Entertainment, a Singapore company, which is an online seller of virtual game items. The Complaint alleges that GosuMall is selling trademarked in-game items from Playfish's Pet Society game, in violation of Playfish's Terms of Service. Click here for a copy of the Complaint. As of today, the GosuMall Pet Society web page is still offering in-game items for sale. Read More...
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IP Megasuits Presentation at the Digital Law Conference

Yesterday, I gave a presentation at the Digital Law Conference on the topic of IP Megasuits, comparing the new Eros v. Linden case to the Viacom v. YouTube and Google case. Eros asserted direct and secondary copyright infringement, trademark infringement, and related state law claims against Linden Research, which operates the Second Life® virtual world. I posted the handout and PowerPoint slides on this site’s IP Megasuit Presentation page. Please write me at swu@ckwlaw.com if you would like to follow up on any questions you have about the program materials. Read More...
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Intellectual Property Megasuit: Could It Happen to You?

Tomorrow, September 23, I will be giving a presentation at the Digital Law Conference in San Jose, CA, entitled “Intellectual Property Megasuit: Could It Happen to You? Read More...
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Breaking Story - Eros, LLC Sues Linden Research

Eros, LLC, a seller of virtual adult products in the Second Life® virtual world, filed a class action suit today against the operator of Second Life®, Linden Research, Inc., in the federal district court in San Francisco. KamberEdelson, LLC is the law firm representing Eros and the other named plaintiff, Shannon Grei (SL: Munchflower Zaius). The Complaint contends that Linden is infringing upon the plaintiffs’ trademarks and Grei’s copyrights directly, as well as facilitating and profiting from the infringements of others. The plaintiffs seek unspecified damages, as well as injunctive relief. Read More...
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