Fantasy Flight Publishing, Inc. v. Puffin Software et al.
U.S. District Court, District of Minnesota
Case No. 11-cv-01928, Filed July 15, 2011

Fantasy Flight Publishing, owner of the war strategy board game BattleLore, has filed suit against European company, Puffin Software, for copyright infringement and unfair competition. Puffin allegedly sells a computerized version of a game almost identical to BattleLore online, through Apple’s App Store and its own website. According to the complaint, BattleLore was created by famous board game designer, Richard Borg, and Fantasy Flight acquired all copyrights in the BattleLore game from him in September 2008. Fantasy Flight registered its copyright to the game with the Copyright Office on June 15, 2011, one month before filing this suit.

According to Fantasy Flight, Puffin through its owner Johannes Paivinen, created the electronic game “Viking Lords” as an iPad version of BattleLore under a different name. Fantasy alleges that Paivinen previously admitted as much in public, and that the substantial similarity between the games was likely to lead to confusion in the marketplace. Fantasy goes on to say in its complaint that it is common for many board games, like Monopoly and Scrabble, to launch online versions, and the average consumer, familiar with this practice, is likely to confuse Viking Lords with the board game BattleLore because they are nearly identical, though in different mediums. In addition, Fantasy Flight asserts that its BattleLore game is highly successful, and has a large following both online, and in the real world, making confusion all the more likely.

Both games are set during a European medieval period, but Puffin’s version limits troops to Vikings. In addition, both games have three sectors at the player’s left, center and right, and the abilities of the troops or Vikings are determined by a color-coding system: green for fast, blue for average and red for strong, according to the complaint. Fantasy claims that Paivinen first approached them with a prototype for a computerized version of BattleLore, but when they were slow to respond, he went ahead and created his own version, launching it on the App Store.

In addition to copyright infringement, the suit raises claims of unfair competition under the Lanham Act and deceptive trade practices and unjust enrichment under state law. Fantast Flight asserts that it asked Puffin to cease and desist from its infringing activities, without success. It claims the unlawful activities are putting its reputation at risk because it has no control over the nature, quality and direction of the computer adaption of the game and how the unauthorized work is developed or distributed. Fantasy is seeking a permanent injunction, damages, pre- and post-judgment interest, and attorneys’ fees and costs.
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