Candy Crush, a particularly popular match three casual game that you can play on iOS, Android, or Facebook, has been the subject of quite a few scandals recently. First of all, they butted heads with the creators of The Banner Saga over the use of the word saga. King, the creators of Candy Crush, has created many games that use the word “Saga” such as Candy Crush Saga, Farm Friends Saga, so on so forth. They argued that The Banner Saga’s use of the word saga was purposefully misleading.
Of course, this didn’t sit too well with fans or… you know… rational intelligent people. The word saga literally means “an old Norse style epic.” LITERALLY! It doesn’t mean “a fairytale world of candies.” The Banner Saga is, once again literally, an old Norse style epic, and yet King wasn’t OK with this.
But that wasn’t the end of the problems. King continued to pursue trademarks of plain old normal words. Their latest outlandish foray into the world of abusing the law is an attempt to trademark the word “candy.”
This, of course, caused many problems with not only fans, but also other app creators. There was another app, CandySwipe, which was actually made BEFORE Candy Crush. However, filing the trademark of Candy could allow King to challenge Candy Swipe’s very existence. As a result, the creator of CandySwipe wrote this letter to King:
Congratulations! You win! I created my game CandySwipe in memory of my late mother who passed away at an early age of 62 of leukemia. I released CandySwipe in 2010 five months after she passed and I made it because she always liked these sorts of games. In fact, if you beat the full version of the android game, you will still get the message saying "...the game was made in memory of my mother, Layla..." I created this game for warmhearted people like her and to help support my family, wife and two boys 10 and 4. Two years after I released CandySwipe, you released Candy Crush Saga on mobile; the app icon, candy pieces, and even the rewarding, "Sweet!" are nearly identical. So much so, that I have hundreds of instances of actual confusion from users who think CandySwipe is Candy Crush Saga, or that CandySwipe is a Candy Crush Saga knockoff. So when you attempted to register your trademark in 2012, I opposed it for "likelihood of confusion" (which is within my legal right) given I filed for my registered trademark back in 2010 (two years before Candy Crush Saga existed). Now, after quietly battling this trademark opposition for a year, I have learned that you now want to cancel my CandySwipe trademark so that I don't have the right to use my own game's name. You are able to do this because only within the last month you purchased the rights to a game named Candy Crusher (which is nothing like CandySwipe or even Candy Crush Saga). Good for you, you win. I hope you're happy taking the food out of my family's mouth when CandySwipe clearly existed well before Candy Crush Saga.
I have spent over three years working on this game as an independent app developer. I learned how to code on my own after my mother passed and CandySwipe was my first and most successful game; it's my livelihood, and you are now attempting to take that away from me. You have taken away the possibility of CandySwipe blossoming into what it has the potential of becoming. I have been quiet, not to exploit the situation, hoping that both sides could agree on a peaceful resolution. However, your move to buy a trademark for the sole purpose of getting away with infringing on the CandySwipe trademark and goodwill just sickens me.
This also contradicts your recent quote by Riccardo in "An open letter on intellectual property" posted on your website which states, "We believe in a thriving game development community, and believe that good game developers – both small and large - have every right to protect the hard work they do and the games they create."
I myself was only trying to protect my hard work.
I wanted to take this moment to write you this letter so that you know who I am. Because I now know exactly what you are. Congratulations on your success!
President (Founder), Runsome Apps Inc.
As a result of pressure put on King, they have abandoned their Candy trademark in the U.S. Instead, they are trademarking “Candy Crusher.” In Europe, however, they have continued to pursue the trademark of Candy. Note, this means that candy would be unable to be used in any other game if the trademark holds, certainly not in the title but likely not even in game pieces.
Trademarks are one of our many ways to protect intellectual property, which King continues to profess that they are doing. They were designed to protect creativity, essentially giving creators and inventors impetus to continue inventing by preventing others from benefitting from their success. But one look at The Banner Saga shows that it’s nothing like Candy Crush. Not only that, but CandySwipe came BEFORE Candy Crush, so both instances of these trademarks are basically perverting what Trademarks are supposed to be used for. You also have to wonder how far these trademark shenanigans will go on until Popcap starts trying to collect money on Candy Crush just being a Bejewled clone?
What do you guys think? Does King have a right to the words candy or saga? Let us know in the comments.
Former Contributing Writer