Zynga files suit against casual-sex app maker

In this legal battle, it's casual gaming vs. casual sex. 

Zynga Inc., the social video games maker known for "Words With Friends" and "Scramble With Friends," has sued Bang With Friends Inc., a service that facilitates casual sex encounters, claiming that its name exploits Zynga's "With Friends" brand.

Bang With Friends' service enables users to find Facebook friends to hook up with. In a complaint filed Tuesday, Zynga said Bang With Friends' use of the phrase "With Friends" is trademark infringement. The game maker asked the court to stop Bang With Friends from using the suffix and award damages to Zynga.

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Zynga said the sex-oriented San Francisco start-up -- which had its Web domain name registered last year, according to the complaint -- chose its name with "Zynga's game trademarks fully in mind." 

Zynga has promoted the "With Friends" games as a family, which includes titles such as "Chess With Friends," according to the complaint.

"Zynga filed a lawsuit to stop blatant infringement of its valuable 'With Friends' brand," said Renée Lawson, Zynga's deputy general counsel. "Zynga is compelled to file suit to prevent further consumer confusion and protect its intellectual property rights against infringement."

Zynga said the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has rejected competitors' proposed trademarks such as "Crosswords With Friends," "Yacht With Friends" and "Fitness With Friends." 

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Bang With Friends users pick which friends they'd like to have sex with. The app sends back an alert if any of those people are also interested in a friends-with-benefits arrangement.   

"We heard through media reports that Zynga has filed a trademark infringement claim with respect to the 'with friends' part of our name," Bang with Friends Chief Executive and co-founder Colin Hodge said in an emailed statement. "As a technology company, we take intellectual property seriously and will evaluate the case in detail once we receive a copy. Regardless, we continue to be focused on making our users happy, so that they can help each other be happy."

Trademark issues are not Bang With Friends' only problems. The company's iOS app was recently removed from Apple Inc.'s iTunes app store.

In a recent interview with Business Insider, Hodge said 200,000 people have successfully used the service to find matches. 

Zynga has struggled lately to point its own business in the right direction as it tries to repeat early success of hit games and attract users of mobile devices. 

Last week the company reported third-quarter revenue and earnings outlook that fell short of analyst expectations. The San Francisco company said revenue for the third quarter will be $175 million to $200 million. 

Zynga reported a second-quarter loss of $15.8 million, compared with a loss of $22.8 million during the same period last year. Revenue for the quarter that ended June 30 fell 31% year-over-year to $231 million. 


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