The Learning Co., publisher of the game that has introduced generations of schoolkids to the concept of mortality, is suing Zynga, operator of the game that lets their parents grow virtual vegetables, to prevent it from launching a Facebook game focusing on an overland journey to Oregon in the 1800s.
In a suit filed yesterday in US District Court in Boston, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt - the Learning Co.'s Back Bay-based parent - accused Zynga of trying to muscle in on its action with a game that would confuse people into thinking it had something to do with the original Oregon Trail - which itself now has a Facebook version:
There can be no doubt that Zynga's adoption of an identical and confusingly similar mark is willful and intended to free-ride on the established goodwill of THE OREGON TRAIL Mark. Not only is The Learning Company's game famous, The Learning Company approached Zynga in 2010 to inquire whether it would be interesting in assisting The Learning Company in developing a version of the game for play on Facebook. Zynga requested more information about The Learning Company's THE OREGON TRAIL brand and The Learning Company sent Zynga detailed information on the brand, history, sales, and development plans. After preliminary discussions, the parties decided not to work together.