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 Candy Crush  maker King is a step closer to trademarking the word 'Candy'
Candy Crush maker King is a step closer to trademarking the word 'Candy'
January 20, 2014 | By Staff

January 20, 2014 | By Staff
Comments
    77 comments
More: Smartphone/Tablet, Business/Marketing



King, the company behind the chart-topping mobile game Candy Crush Saga, wants to make sure its market dominance is secure, in part by seeking to trademark a very common word.

In February last year, King filed the application to trademark the word "Candy" across a broad variety of products, from shower caps to computer games. On January 15 this year, King got a step closer to owning that trademark, as the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office approved it for publication.

If you're a developer and have the word "candy" in the name of your mobile app, you may need to change the name of your game (or lawyer up). GameZebo has the full scoop, and reports that already, game developers who use the word "candy" in their mobile games' names are getting notifications from Apple about the trademark, on behalf of King.

This isn't the first time that trademark disputes have arisen in the mobile space over commonly-used words. The same thing happened with the word "Memory" back in 2012.

Clarification: The trademark has been approved, but "for publication." That means there is still a 30-day window for people to oppose the trademark.

From the USPTO: "After the mark is published in the [USPTO weekly publication] 'Official Gazette,' any party who believes it may be damaged by registration of the mark has thirty (30) days from the publication date to file either an opposition to registration or a request to extend the time to oppose."

Update #1: Back in November 2011, King applied for the trademark to the word "Saga." As of December last year however, the application was suspended on a technicality; being based outside of the U.S., King is required to submit special paperwork to the USPTO, which it did not file, leading the trademark application suspension.

Update #2: Gamasutra reached out to King for an explanation of the company's trademark strategy, and received the following response from a King representative:

"We have trademarked the word 'CANDY' in the EU, as our IP is constantly being infringed and we have to enforce our rights and to protect our players from confusion. We don't enforce against all uses of CANDY – some are legitimate and of course, we would not ask App developers who use the term legitimately to stop doing so.

The particular App in this instance was called 'Candy Casino Slots – Jewels Craze Connect: Big Blast Mania Land', but its icon in the App store just says 'Candy Slots', focussing heavily on our trademark. As well as infringing our and other developer's IP, use of keywords like this as an App name is also a clear breach of Apple's terms of use. We believe this App name was a a calculated attempt to use other companies’ IP to enhance its own games, through means such as search rankings."

However, we are continuing to look into whether developers with games that use the word "Saga" have been notified by King recently.

Update #3: King is opposing the registration of the trademark The Banner Saga by Stoic, the game's developer. Blogger Superannuation has dug up King's Notice of Opposition to Stoic's trademark, which can be read at this link [pdf] and which states, in part, "use and registration of the term The Banner Saga by Applicant [Stoic] is likely to cause confusion, mistake, or deception that Applicant's goods are those of Opposer [King], or are otherwise endorsed, sponsored, or approved by Opposer for use with Opposer's goods causing further damage to Opposer." Stoic has declined to comment to Gamasutra regarding this story so far.

Update #4: When pressed for comment, a King representative gave Gamasutra the following statement regarding the company's opposition to Stoic's attempt to trademark The Banner Saga:

"King has not and is not trying to stop The Banner Saga from using its name. We do not have any concerns that The Banner Saga is trying build on our brand or our content."

"However, like any prudent company, we need to take all appropriate steps to protect our IP, both now and in the future. In this case, that means preserving our ability to enforce our rights in cases where other developers may try to use the Saga mark in a way which infringes our IP rights and causes player confusion. If we had not opposed The Banner Saga’s trademark application, it would be much easier for real copy cats to argue that their use of 'Saga' was legitimate."

"This is an important issue for King because we already have a series of games where 'Saga' is key to the brand which our players associate with a King game; Candy Crush Saga, Bubble Witch Saga, Pet Rescue Saga, Farm Heroes Saga and so on. All of these titles have already faced substantive trademark and copyright issues with clones."


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Comments


Katy Smith
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Ugh. I'm pretty sure nobody was going to confuse Candy Box, Candy Slots, or Candy Land with Candy Crush saga.

It's also weird they decided to go for "Candy" and not "Saga" since all of their other titles end as Something-Something Saga.

evan c
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Poor Candy the hooker.

Alan Barton
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Ok so if the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is now ignoring prior art and also allowing trademarking common words

... I've just trademarked, "Video Game" ... ha!, everyone, its too late, Checkmate!

By the way, I've also patented the use of air, so get off my planet or pay up!

Seriously, joking aside, this needs to be fought and overturned at every step of the way and someone at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office needs to be fired. This cannot be allowed to stand otherwise this behaviour will increasingly be exploited by ever more companies to retrospectively trademark just about anything and everything in the future.

This needs to be stopped for everyone's sake (in every industry!).

(It sounds very much like the USPTO have approved it without doing almost any prior art checking and are just hoping someone will do the checking for them!. Is that how its played these days??. If so that's wide open to be abused by any corporation hoping they have more money than anyone else. It's also showing once again the patent office are not looking out for the little guys, like they claim the patent system is designed to protect. Patents and Trademarks are becoming a financial arms race where only the ones with the most money get to buy the legal right to use something. Shows how deeply corrupted the whole system is becoming).

* Yes, I think patents have descended into uselessness for almost everyone (unless you have at least 100M+ to fight it) and it looks like Trademarks are going the same way.

Disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer.

Michael Wenk
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I am curious, but can you come up with a video game that was released prior to april 2012 with candy in its name? I did a quick and dirty google search, and I didn't get much. I also looked at play, and a cursory glance shows only last update times, not initial release.

The USPTO just does a search on existing marks. They are not omniscient, and rely on public comment to determine whether there is prior use on a mark. And to invalidate it you have to show that the prior work is similar enough for there to be confusion, and that your use of the mark predates the use of the applicant.

Your views on patents are simply that - your views. And not really all that applicable to trademarks, which while regulated by the USPTO in the USA do not follow all of the same rules as patents. It also sounds like you don't understand the way these marks work. It would appear to me by doing a quick USPTO trademark search that "Candy" and variations are heavily marked. While the purpose of a patent is to make sure you're compensated, the purpose of a mark is so that another doesn't demean your product or attempt to gain free marketing by your product.

However, the question I have is why should another developer get to make a game with Candy in the name and benefit from Candy Crush's success? How is that fair to king.com ?

And I'd also point out that king.com is a pretty small company, were I them, I'd fear larger companies coming and trying a shove out, which registering a mark would help.

Jakub Majewski
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A quick check on Mobygames - so, you had Bullet Candy (2006), Candy Cannon (2006), Candy Land (1998), Candy & Clyde (2007), Candy Catcher (uh, 2011, for the Atari 2600?! That can't be right...), Bullet Candy Perfect (2009), and Candy Pink Multidisc (2007). There's also a couple of games with "candy" in their subtitle, and two companies with the word "candy" in their name. Is that enough?

But there's more to it than that. Even if there were no other games out there prior to 2012 with the word "candy" in their name, what does it matter? It's still a common word, and that's not what trademark laws are supposed to be used for. If they are, then they have become too wide-reaching and need to be cut back.

Michael Wenk
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Common doesn't really matter. Marks, trade or service, are contextual. Why should anyone be able to create a clone, call it Candy Moo and profit from CCS? The answer is no one should. It takes work to make software, and whoever does it should not get free marketing from CCS unless they pay for it.

Marks also aren't as fungible as patents. Lets say you decide to come out with a podcast and you'd call it the Candy podcast that was about cooking hard candy. Unless King.com can prove there was enough similarity that reasonable consumer couldn't tell the difference, the use would be fine. You might have to challenge it, but that's better than the alternative.

I think you're confusing patents with marks. The USPTO has a search engine. Look at it. Someone marked Blue Sky:

http://tess2.uspto.gov/bin/jumpto?f=doc&state=4806:xq93t2.4.21

That's pretty obvious, but its a mark for a company. You shouldn't be able to create a animation company called blue sky and benefit from their good name (assuming they have a good name, I know nothing about that company, this is just an example to illustrate)

As for titles you list, they have to be active and their product must be harmed by the mark. If CCS goes dark for any reason, the marks would be tied to product, and would also go dark after some time.

Candy was marked previously, and it went inactive. Which is why I'd guess they got this far.

Eric Salmon
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There are a few console games. I don't really want to search the whole list of phone games to see if any predate Candy Crush, though.

http://www.ign.com/games/candy-stripe-167931/dc-802939
http://www.ign.com/games/tiny-toon-adventures-dizzys-candy-quest/
gbc-855152
http://www.ign.com/games/candace-kanes-candy-factory/wii-14263202

In addition, there are a ton of candy themed flash games on candystand.com (including a candy themed bejeweled game from 2006... http://www.candystand.com/play/candy-drops#)

A tiny excerpt that might help explain another reason why people are concerned:

"Approved for: ... online magazines, online newspapers, electronic journals, blogs, podcasts and mobile game applications in the field of computer and video games; Exposed photographic film; Headphones; Juke boxes, musical; Laptop computers; Microphones; Baby monitors; Battery performance monitors"

A bit too broad, eh? I can see merchandising clothes given the huge popularity of the game (even shower caps), but baby monitors? I don't know anything about trademarks, so maybe I'm misreading the document or something, but that's just bizarre.

Michael Wenk
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Have you seen how much stuff Rovio stuck the red bird on? In some ways I'd expect the mark to be broader (they don't specifically mark it in context of a slot machine for example)

Wes Jurica
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Headphones: http://goo.gl/aCDiTc
Magazines: http://goo.gl/gWz9He
Tons of games results: http://goo.gl/0qnE1k

That took a couple minutes. Why should they even be considered for the mark if there is so much previous usage?

@ Michael Wenk
Can you provide some info on the "public comments" you refer to? More specifically how to submit these comments? I couldn't find the relevant info.

Ian Griffiths
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"I am curious, but can you come up with a video game that was released prior to april 2012 with candy in its name? "

http://www.metacritic.com/search/game/candy/results?sort=score


I got this from Rock, Paper Shotgun's article - http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2014/01/21/stealing-candy-from-ba
bies-king-embrace-the-aristocracy/#more-185457

Kaitlyn Kaid
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Not to mention Skullcandy, which has been making headphones since '03

Kaitlyn Kaid
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Not to mention Skullcandy, which has been making headphones since '03

Lucio Gama
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Have you ever heard of Bullet Candy?
(Oops, just now I saw people already posted about it!)

But got a new one:

Candy Flash, for ZX Spectrum in 1989!
http://www.worldofspectrum.org/infoseekid.cgi?id=0022052

John Maurer
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Its about fair use, and snagging a common word is anything but fair. By your logic we'd be seeing entire genre's getting trademarked or copyrighted. Your are right about one thing, context. "Candy Crush Saga" should (and likely is) trademarked, but to have a Monopoly on the words Candy, Crush, and/or Saga is completely out of context

Michael Wenk
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@Wes I'm sorry, but I couldn't find the public comments thing. I remember reading about it on groklaw in context of software patents (I remember it also having something to do with trademarks) However, groklaw's search seems broken (the site's been dead for close to six months now), so I cannot find it.

Michael Wenk
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@John A Trademark isn't a monopoly. I think you are confusing Trademarks with Patents. From the website:

"A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination thereof, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others."

The primary use is to make sure your work is distinguishable from the competition. In this case, King doesn't want all the clones in the app store to benefit from the marketing.

It doesn't mean you can't use candy, it just means that you can't use it to produce a good that could be confused with CCS. It does mean you're likely to have to hire a lawyer or navigate the USPTO rules.

These aren't patents.

Nuttachai Tipprasert
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"The primary use is to make sure your work is distinguishable from the competition. In this case, King doesn't want all the clones in the app store to benefit from the marketing."

The problem is that is not what they are doing. The two games they are attacking are not even resemble CCS even the slightest. One is a slot game which has candy as a theme. AFAIK, there're already other slot machine games out there that use candy even before CCS. And the other game is a strategy RPG which aiming for different target audience than Kings' entirely. How can these two games can benefit from CCS success? I'm really curious.

Sean Kiley
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Power corrupts

Daniel Boy
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And candy power corrupts deliciously.

Joshua Dallman
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This is outrageous and hurts consumers by limiting developer creativity.

We all own "CANDY" not King.com exclusively. Power to the people - the developers and the audiences they seek to entertain.

Joshua Dallman
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Does anyone have information on how to contest this with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office? We should organize a campaign. This is a slippery slope to every broad categorization being trademarked by large corporations: Jewel, Diner, Monster, etc. Don't allow erosion of our thought-space!

Jeff Alexander
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At first glance, it appears that in the U.S., there exists no formal method to contest someone else's trademark unless you have a plausible claim that it will impact your business or that it conflicts with a trademark you already own.

Tom Spilman
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According to the trademark office link in the article the trademark hasn't been "published for opposition" yet. Once it is you can file a notice of opposition electronically here:

http://estta.uspto.gov/filing-type.jsp

Michael Wenk
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I am not a lawyer, but after looking at the rules for opposing a mark (http://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/law/tmlaw.pdf) I'd probably contact a IP attorney.

Eddie Corlew
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It's OK guys, we can still spell candy with a k.

Dean Boytor
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Surprised that Netherrealm studios has not patented Kandy for their Mortal Kombat Series

:P

Michael Wenk
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Well, if you search kandy, you'd find a bunch of trademarks.

Leonardo Ferreira
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As a candy (not Candy-Crush, mind you) addict, I find this to be most troubling. I'm mean, every pack of jelly candy I buy is going to finance perverse and psychologically dishonest timewasting pseudogames?

Arseniy Shved
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And every time you eat an apple you fund the development of the next iPhone.
And every time you breathe, Apple layers get uneasy, because "air" is a trademark as well.

Mark Ludlow
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Geez. This is the whole "Edge" saga all over again...

Katy Smith
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That was my first thought as well .

Matt Allmer
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It is. So let's hurry this along and all rename our games to end in "Saga".

Mark Nelson
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They should not be able to trademark either "Candy" or "Crush" or "Saga" separately. And if they were to be allowed any of the words, there should be significant constraints on what constitutes infringement (i.e., Saga only at the end of a product name...)

Kevin Fishburne
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Something I've noticed is that movie and book names will use the same -exact- name again and again and no one seems to think twice. Why is it different with the names of computer games?

It's one thing if the game itself is similar to the game it's sharing a title with, because that's either a hell of a coincidence or an obvious effort to ride the former title's success. Remember when Notch caught heat from Zenimax over naming his game "Scrolls", even though it shared little in common with The Elder Scrolls series? Threatening devs for using the word "candy" in their games' titles sounds like the same bullshit all over again.

Corporations will always unashamedly grab as much as they're legally permitted to, so in this case I'm guessing writing/calling the USPTO to let them know they've completely lost their minds is the best option to fight this sort of madness.

http://www.uspto.gov/about/contacts/

E Zachary Knight
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"Something I've noticed is that movie and book names will use the same -exact- name again and again and no one seems to think twice. Why is it different with the names of computer games?"

According to this reference, titles of individual books are not Elegible for trademark protection, but works in a series are.

http://www.copylaw.com/new_articles/titles.html

So in this case, the "Chronicles of Narnia" is protectable by trademark but "The Screwtape Letters" is not.

But I beleive there is an unwritten agreement between major publishers to not release books with the same title within a year of each other.

I guess how this applies to goes is that everything is becoming a franchise or merchandise in some way. So trademark is becoming more and more important to game developers.

Michael Wenk
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I recall reading when Transformers: Dark of the Moon came out that they were encouraged to not use the PF title. I see some articles on google reflecting this.

I think the trademarking trend comes from a lot of clones on the app stores.

Chris Clogg
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Tower Defense is already gone by the way (thanks Com2US!). So sad lol.

Jesse Tucker
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Aw man, I was just about to announce the new game "Candy Edge Scrolls"

Kevin Fishburne
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LOL. Call it "Lord of the Candy Edge Scrolls" to insure total annihilation. The Tolkien estate never lets a good lawsuit go unfiled.

Jim Thompson
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Looks like King has crossed the realm into Zynga Cash Saga. Sad to hear.

Josh Neff
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Everyone seems to be panicking over a trademarked name. First. relax and breath. Here is a little bit of info about trademarked words: Trademark owners do not acquire the exclusive ownership of words. They only obtain the right to use the mark in commerce and to prevent competitors in the same line of goods or services from using a confusingly similar mark. The same word can therefore be trademarked by different producers to label different kinds of goods. Examples are Delta Airlines and Delta Faucets. So, someone could conceivably make Candy Congealer, the RPG, and have it be a legit non-contestable (at least on the legal stage) name.

Matt Rix
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Sorry, but there's no separate trademark category for RPG games vs puzzle games. The categories are MUCH more broad than that (and if you look at the application, you'll see the King filed for a TON of different categories).

And also, if you think King isn't going to use this to force other games off the App Store that have Candy in the name, well surprise, they're ALREADY doing it, even though they don't have a legit trademark yet.

Raph Koster
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They have already sent Cease & Desists to some devs, for both "Candy" and "Saga." One of them is the recently released "The Banner Saga" which just came out. It's an RPG. Made by 3 people who cannot afford to do a legal fight.

So in short, you are right in theory, but you're wrong. :)

Michael Wenk
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@Raph The C&D can and should be fought. If king doesn't defend its IP, King could be found to have abandoned it.

If the devs you refer to really can't afford it, they could search out a lawyer that could do it at a reduced rate, or pro bono. Lots of places have legal clinics.

nicolas mercier
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@Michael: To go back to, I don't know, facts, for instance, how is attacking "The Banner Saga" defending "Candy Crush Saga"?

To be honest, I can't see how candy crush saga is even a saga, it's just a keyword, whereas the banner saga actually is a saga:
"a long story of heroic achievement, especially a medieval prose narrative in Old Norse or Old Icelandic."

Trademarking Saga for a match 3 game is like trademarking Candy for a rocket launcher.

Shea Rutsatz
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That's probably one of the trademarked categories.

Jay N
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So Stoic, developers of The Banner Saga, should rely on the kindness of strangers in order to fight the unfairness that is the arbitrary system that may in the future allow King to trademark the very common word "Candy"? I call bullshit.

This wasn't the intent of the trademark system, and it will never hold up in the long run, as the Edge case proved. What's next – trademarking the words "pet", "rescue", "farm" and "heroes"? Good luck with that, King.

In fact, King is doing both itself and its products a disservice by behaving this way. Given that Candy Crush Saga is the only decent game in their roster (Pet Rescue Saga struggles to lick its candied boots), the company should not be poking the gamer bear as hard as it's doing now. It'll backfire spectacularly, and when it does, we'll all be here to watch the wreck as it burns.

Wes Jurica
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@ Jay
It is doubtful there will be any gamer backlash that King would give two shits about. Their audience isn't concerned with such things and those that will be vocal about this don't play King games. I doubt there is very much if any crossover between Banner Saga and Candy Crush games.

Jay N
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@ Wes
That is true in one regard, naturally, but see how Zynga struggles to recruit talent now, and by extension to output viable products, in part because of its horrible track record with gamers. First comes dislike, then disinterest, then oblivion.

So far King have managed to avoid Zynga's mistake and stay just on the inside of good terms with the games community, but to think the company is somehow immune to the same fate would be foolish.

Which is why it strikes me as so weird they would even go down this route – it's one thing to take out a trademark on something general in order to avoid being the target of litigation, but it's another thing entirely to try and put the squeeze on others with that same trademark.

Tim Langdell eventually felt the full force of a collective games community in his pursuits; may King face the same in their endeavors as well.

Raph Koster
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Looks like what they did is actually oppose the Banner Saga's trademark... not a C&D. Apologies for the inaccuracy.

nicolas mercier
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http://kotaku.com/candy-crush-saga-makers-go-after-the-banner-sag
a-for-1506188958

nicolas mercier
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http://kotaku.com/candy-crush-saga-makers-go-after-the-banner-sag
a-for-1506188958
(edit) sorry, double click :-/
if somebody can remove the duplicate link...

Tetsu Kamoshima
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I wonder what Square hast to say about King and the use of the word SAGA...

Mike Murray
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Not just Square. A ton of games use that word.

Jeremy Alessi
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It's pretty easy to get in touch with the Trademark attorney and also to file a dispute. Someone can also just request 90 days of delay to do research right now. I ran into an issue when trademarking my company name. Was hugely educational!

Amir Barak
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I think the theme for the coming GGJ should be CANDY... just sayin'

Paolo Gambardella
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I am not in their own business, so I don't know how much another "candy" game affected their product. Anyway, I don't think this kind of choices are too simple to take (read the mayority of comments here and on the web in general to get an idea), as this affects your "company fame".

By the way I am a game designer, and I can truly affirm that if you need to put "candy" on your game's title to get some download more, you are publicly admitting that your game is not so appealing. Fact.

Terry Matthes
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Everyone here is trying to use logic to explain trademarks and patents. That's everyone's problem. They have nothing to do with fairness or logic. Patent and trademark litigation are all about money. The more you have the more secure you are, no matter how outlandish your situation. I know this sounds like I'm joking, but I'm absolutely not.

If Candy Crush didn't have the money from it's success this wouldn't be an issue, but they have lots of money so indirectly their proposal will go through. It's quite simple.

Maria Jayne
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I was under the impression trademarks, copyrights, patents etc were subject to usage after the date of the law passed. To make them retroactive seems....very wrong, how could the creators of any past game have the forethought to avoid such a law before it was even created. To be lawfully required to change or cease doing business with a name older than the date of law passed would be to unjustly infringe on the business of others.

E Zachary Knight
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Trademark is about continued usage. So a game developer that used the mark before the filing would be fine as long s they did not continue to use the name for further commerce.

Maciej Miasik
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I think The Candy Jam is proper response to this madness http://thecandyjam.com/

David Serrano
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What happens when developers start using alternate spellings of the word? Would a game released in a different genre that has the word Candi, Candie, Kandy or Kandi in the title constitute a violation of King's copyright?

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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I think this is a horrendous development as described, but while rage-browsing I happened upon a tweet linking to a metacritic list of 1000 games with "Candy" in the name, and I saw a trend that caused me to feel some empathy.

Let's start with: Candy Crush Saga
Release Date: Nov 14, 2012

Then pay attention to (all on the iOS):

Candy Rain - Crush and Smash the Sweet Candy
Release Date: Apr 23, 2013
Publisher: marius stefan

A Sweet Candy Magic Saga - Super Hexa Diamond Crush Competition
Release Date: Oct 18, 2013
Publisher: Mooniz Interactive Ltd

Candy Crash Galaga
Release Date: Dec 12, 2013
Publisher: jawapps

Dessert Crush HD : Match Candy Desserts to Win
Release Date: Apr 24, 2013
Publisher: Free Music Download Downloader LLC

etc.


http://www.metacritic.com/search/game/candy+crush/results

Awful lot of games came out last year on the iOS where the developer felt a sincere belief that having the word "Candy" and "Crush" in the title was the proper artistic route to take, undoubtedly unaffected by the success of Candy Crush. *eyeroll*

It seems obvious to me that there is a swarm of developers, perhaps frustrated by the hit or miss nature of the App store (so I can even empathize with them), trying to grab some of the search traffic associated with the words "candy crush". Of course, I wonder why trademarking "Candy Crush" isn't good enough, and the more generic "Candy" needs to be the approach? I don't think we should let companies get away with stealing common words from our shared lexicon (imagine if the first person to use any word such as "Call", "War", "gun", etc was the last person who could use that word in a title, how quickly would we run out of decent-sounding game titles?), but it may be more of an awkward attempt at legitimate self defense than an evil attempt to dominate the lexical landscape. Or it may be an act stemming from the former and morphing into the latter if we let it.

Anyway, the appropriate response is to fight this as a community, but assume the best intentions from King. Unless anyone has some insight into shady intentions.

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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And the plot thickens.

Does anyone know about Candy Crusher?

http://www.metacritic.com/game/ios/candy-crusher

Released on iOS on Jul 16, 2009 by Ibis Software Productions.

"Summary: Play Candy Crusher! Drop candies to match existing candies on the playing field. Match 3 or more candies to remove them from the playing field and score. The more matching candies, the higher the score! The game is over when the candies pile up above the crush line."

See also: http://www.ibissoftwareproductions.com/Site/Home.html

Interestingly, when I search Google for "Candy Crusher", I get nothing but articles related to "Candy Crush". It seems as if King did to Ibis what they fear being done to them. So what now? If King is going to hold to the integrity of their ethics system about not ripping off the names of games that came before you, how will they repay Ibis for doing the same to them?

Kevin Fishburne
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If the gameplay and "skin" or general appearance are similar, or in other words, if twelve random people will say "Wow, what an obvious rip off!", then yeah they should be sued.

It appears as though King's going after some folks whose games aren't anything like their own, which leads me to believe someone cut the chains on their lawyers and pointed them toward the red meat. It sounds like what started as a good idea has turned into a carpet bombing and civilian casualties be damned.

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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I'm sorry to hear that. But not surprised.

I'm confident this will not work well for them.

Mike Murray
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I'm not an expert or anything, but...wouldn't it have been better to trademark the whole name, and not just the common word? Why did the trademark even get approved?

Will Hendrickson
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OK, so it's expensive to fight King on this directly. But, what they are doing is clearly wrong.

For those who don't know: patents and trademarks do not actually "protect" anything. They are an offensive weapon that allow you to sue someone else based on arbitrary rules. In this case, they are being used to destroy smaller developers who cannot afford to defend themselves in court.

The best way to fight this is to tell the consumer. This can be done in many ways, but just getting the word out about what King is doing is going to make a lot of consumers very mad. And rightly so, King is not only bullying other developers, they are intentionally watering down the available options so that a consumer is more likely to become their customer.

Tell everyone! That way, this whole thing will blow up in King's face. The idea is to use the simple truth to cost King as much money as possible. Go!

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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I agree with you enough to like your post, but I must disagree that trademarks don't "protect". If you start a successful company and don't have some form of protection of the name of your company, then other people can release products with your company name and logo on the package to trick consumers and profit off the good will you have developed. I think trademark is very legitimate most of the time, but can be abused in cases like this.

Jay Jennings
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"Tell the consumer." In theory that sounds good, but I don't think most CCS consumers would care enough to act. I imagine the conversation to my family members and friends who play it would go something like...

"That's just stupid! How can they get away with that? Hey, can you send me an extra life?"

John Maurer
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Dude, trademarking a phrase or a name I can come to terms with, but words?!?!?! "Candy Saga" should be allowed to be trademarked, but both the words "Candy" and "Saga"!?!?! Really? That's wrong, do the bureaucrats even read the shit they sign anymore?

Joshua Dallman
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* Official statement: "We have trademarked the word 'CANDY' in the EU, as our IP is constantly being infringed and we have to enforce our rights and to protect our players from confusion."

* Plain-spoken Translation: "We had to do this (the lawyers made us)."

* Money-talks Translation: "We're the #1 Top Grossing game for the past 280 days in the last 10 months (iPhone US) and nobody's going to confuse tiny indie RPG's with us, but we're making so much money we have no choice but to start spending it on lawyers so we have. Next up: the color red. Don't even think about using it."

Judy Tyrer
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Didn't we just defeat the patent troll who patented the word Mirror? This has to stop!

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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"use and registration of the term The Banner Saga by Applicant [Stoic] is likely to cause confusion, mistake, or deception that Applicant's goods are those of Opposer [King]"

Okay, I'm sure this is just some cookie cutter legalese copy-pasted by a lawyer that doesn't play games, but this is ridiculous. The Banner Saga is "a Viking-themed tactical role-playing" game on Steam, PC, and Mac, while Candy Crush is a candy themed bejeweled clone on Facebook and iOS. The *only* thing they have in common is that they both have Saga in their (three word) titles, which is a pretty common word for the title of a game.

From Google:
"Saga -- a long story of heroic achievement, esp. a medieval prose narrative in Old Norse or Old Icelandic."

If you want to talk about confusion, why is "Saga" even in the title of a one-in-a-million match 3 puzzle game?
It is obvious to me why the developers of a *narrative, combat-oriented, **viking-themed** tactical RPG* would use the word, but why did King?

After this and the Scrolls fiasco, I'm thinking that whatever universities game industry lawyers graduate from need to institute a mandatory Common Sense course. It frightens me the amount of time we must waste as a society fighting and fearing legal frivolity because lawyers are becoming careless (lifted by the winds of those who cry "oh, but you just *have* to protect your trademark or you'll lose it!!1!").

Andrew Wallace
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"However, like any prudent company, we need to take all appropriate steps to protect our IP, both now and in the future. In this case, that means preserving our ability to enforce our rights in cases where other developers may try to use the Saga mark in a way which infringes our IP rights and causes player confusion. If we had not opposed The Banner Saga’s trademark application, it would be much easier for real copy cats to argue that their use of 'Saga' was legitimate."

HOW CAN ANYONE READ THIS PARAGRAPH AND NOT THINK THE ENTIRE SYSTEM IS BROKEN?

Andrew Wallace
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I have never gotten a halfway decent answer explaining why companies shouldn't be able to selectively enforce trademarks.

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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"However, like any prudent company, we need to take all appropriate steps to protect our IP, both now and in the future. In this case, that means preserving our ability to enforce our rights in cases where other developers may try to use the Saga mark in a way which infringes our IP rights and causes player confusion. If we had not opposed The Banner Saga’s trademark application, it would be much easier for real copy cats to argue that their use of 'Saga' was legitimate."

Okay, this logic again.

"You don't understand, I have to inconvenience *you* or someone else will inconvenience *me*!"

In what other situations is that type of thinking ethically acceptable?

I call it Kleenex-phobia. Yes, brand names can become generic, but it's not something that happens overnight that ethically warrants being a gadfly to as many companies as you can pay your lawyers to find. The harm of genericizing the good will earned by a company is pitiable, but it does not justify the harm (direct or chilling effect) of carpet bombing your peers because of whatever patterns your starving lawyers can find.

BALANCE people.


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