A federal lawsuit filed this week in Massachusetts district court accuses social game mega-publisher Zynga of infringing on The Oregon Trail
trademark held by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt subsidiary The Learning Company (TLC).
The complaint [PDF
] centers on Zynga's planned May 30 launch of an "Oregon Trail" set of missions in its popular FrontierVille
The lawsuit points to a YouTube trailer
for these missions to highlight visual and gameplay similarities between it and various versions of The Oregon Trail
game, including activities such as "setting up a wagon, provisioning, hunting, fording rivers, and helping others."
Zynga's use of the "Oregon Trail" name amounts to "deliberate theft of the goodwill associated with the iconic The Oregon Trail
Mark, which the company has spent millions of dollars promoting since 1971," according to the document.
"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
According to the suit, TLC had approached Zynga last year to discuss making a Facebook version of the game. When those discussions fell through, TLC partnered with Blue Fang to make a Facebook version of the game
, which launched in February and has since attracted nearly 1.2 million players.
The Learning Company is seeking a preliminary injunction to stop Zynga from using the "Oregon Trail" name, as well as assorted monetary damages.