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Zynga counters EA's copyright suit with a claim of its own

Zynga counters EA's copyright suit with a claim of its own

September 14, 2012 | By Tom Curtis

September 14, 2012 | By Tom Curtis
More: Social/Online, Business/Marketing

After a month and a half of silence, Zynga has finally responded to EA's accusations of copyright infringement, and the major social game company isn't taking these legal claims lying down.

When EA first sued Zynga in early August, it claimed that Zynga had copied The Sims Social when making its recent Facebook game, The Ville. In a new three-part response, Zynga predictably denied those allegations, and even turned the tables on EA by accusing the company of violating anti-trust laws.

In the first part of the filing, Zynga said that it wants to eliminate portions of EA's claim that it believes are "redundant, immaterial, impertinent and/or scandalous matter that is unfairly prejudicial to Zynga." The company said that any similarities between The Ville and The Sims Social are simply standard elements of the "life simulation" genre, and are thus not protectable by copyright law.

While that initial response is somewhat expected from a company charged with copyright violations, Zynga added another layer of complexity to the legal battle by filing a counterclaim that accuses EA of unlawful conduct.

Zynga claims that EA CEO John Riccitiello wanted to establish an illegal "no-hire" agreement with Zynga that would prevent the company from hiring employees away from EA. The filing says Riccitiello had grown upset that many EA employees had moved over to Zynga, and had gone "on the war path" to put an end to the talent bleed.

The company also says EA filed its lawsuit in August not because it believes Zynga copied The Sims Social, but because the company wanted to discourage its employees from jumping ship.

[Update: EA has issued an official response to Zynga's filing that largely dismisses the new allegations. EA's statement reads:

"This is a predictable subterfuge aimed at diverting attention from Zynga's persistent plagiarism of other artists and studios. Zynga would be better served trying to hold onto the shrinking number of employees they've got, rather than suing to acquire more."]

Zynga's original court filing can be found below:
Part 1 Zynga's Motion to Strike

Part 2 Zynga's Answer and Demand for Jury Trial

Part 3 Counterclaim (Public)

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