Oregon Trail publisher to Facebook game company: Get dysentery and die

Original vs. imposter? The Learning Co. (l) vs. Zynga.Original vs. imposter? The Learning Co. (l.) vs. Zynga.

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.

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Comments

Trademarking history?

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I know about the Oregon Trail because I've studied history, and the family passes around a crib which made its way across the country in a covered wagon. (Hmm, to tell you the honest truth I'm not sure how that crib made it back to the East Coast. Something to ask my Grandmother...) I don't believe I've ever heard of the game. I'm pretty sure historical events cannot be trademarked...

Maybe someone should develop a Facebook game in which you build a law firm by filing friviolous law suits against other players? (I call the trademark on that idea!)

You can't trademark history

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But you can trademark the game structure you built around that history, the proprietary elements of that game structure (including the hunting element done in the exact same fashion, the river crossing done in the exact fashion and the graphic elements that are rough updates of those created by the Minnesota Educational Computing Corporation).

As for your family history, unless your last name is Denny or Donner, no one cares.

Land of the Empire Builders

Land of the Golden West
Conquered and held by free men
Fairest and the best
Onward and upward ever ... forward and on and on
Hail to thee ... land of heroes ... My Or-ee-gun!

Thus my husband became aware, one late night in the mid-90s, that I had successfully reached the Willamette Valley!

No surprise. Worked for a

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No surprise. Worked for a company who hired one of Zynga's outsted IT Directors. Total. Fraud. (as he was let go a few months later after they saw it was a fraud). This isnt the first for Zenga, Farmville is based on a Maxis game from 1998 called exactly that "Farmville". Its almost IDENTICAL. Zenga hasn't come up with anything original itself, they just steal other ideas and make them work on facebook, skirting the copyright laws and saying its new material since it runs in a browser.

Scam. I wonder why I never caught onto the Farmville Craze.

Wait, what?

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For a short period of time about three or four years back, I was playing Oregon Trail on facebook ... it's supposed to just be coming out now? Confused.

Oregon Trail and Math

Oregon Trail and Math Blaster... the two most amazing games in my childhood! We would fight over the one classroom computer to play it whenever possible, and we would always play them during our weekly computer class even if we weren't supposed to. Sure pissed off the instructor, ha.

I got Oregon trail . . .

. . . on my iphone and I was not impressed. Sorta weird- at a trail fort some guy tells you to keep "Manifest Destiny in your heart and mind". Very bizarre. And the game play was not to my liking.

The iPhone game was produced

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The iPhone game was produced by a different game studio than the current Facebook version. Same publisher (learning company), different game studios.

Donner, party of 12,

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your table is ready.

Donner, party of 11...?

Donner, party of 8...?