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King shuts down  Pac-Avoid  game in wake of cloning accusations
King shuts down Pac-Avoid game in wake of cloning accusations
January 24, 2014 | By Alex Wawro

January 24, 2014 | By Alex Wawro
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    37 comments
More: Console/PC, Design, Business/Marketing



Casual games publisher King claims to have shut down one of its games in response to complaints from indie developer Matthew Cox (a.k.a. Junkyard Sam) that King deliberately copied his game Scamperghost after he and his development partner turned down a deal to license the game to King.

According to Cox, he and his partner Nick Bray -- who together form the indie development team Stolen Goose -- were negotiating with King representative Lars Jornow to bring their Flash game Scamperghost to King's stable of browser games. However, Stolen Goose backed away from the deal in 2010 to pursue a more lucrative arrangement with MaxGames.com.

Cox alleges that King subsequently paid another Flash game developer, Epic Shadow Entertainment, $3,000 to create a direct clone of Scamperghost called Pac-Avoid and get it out in time to match or beat the release of Scamperghost.

"Scamper Ghost [sic] is a great game. We're sorry our deal didn't turn out with you guys - you made out with more money and we were left without an avoider game that we had already planned on," reads an email Cox claims to have received from Jornow after the deal fell through. "We needed an avoider game and sponsored a similar game."

Cox claims that one of the creators of Pac-Avoid apologized via email and instant message for accepting the deal to clone Scamperghost, and shared some of these private emails with Gamasutra.

"[Jornow] asked us to clone the game very quickly, and even wanted to beat the release of the original game," reads an email Cox claims to have received from Pac-Avoid developer Matt Porter. "He offered us 3k, and the only reasons we took the project was because we found it immoral that you backed out of a deal (as it was told to us, perhaps not as it was), and because we were short on cash and in a very shitty living condition."

Cox claims that Stolen Goose "tentatively accepted" King's verbal/email offer on the condition that King and Stolen Goose could come to agreement on some conflicting issues, including King's request that Stolen Goose rework Scamperghost to match King's resolution requirements.

Stolen Goose was ultimately unwilling to meet King's conditions and, according to Cox, never signed a formal deal.

However, he says he's not interested in protecting Scamperghost specifically but rather exposing what he believes to be hypocrisy on King's part in defending its trademarks on commonly-used words like "Candy" and "Saga" while at the same time allegedly paying developers to clone games.

When reached for comment, a King representative claimed the company “does not clone other peoples’ games."

"King believes that IP – both our own IP and that of others – is important and should be properly protected," said King. "Like any prudent company, we take all appropriate steps to protect our IP in a sensible and fair way. At the same time, we are respectful of the rights and IP of other developers. Before we launch any game, we do a thorough search of other games in the marketplace, as well as a review of trademark filings, to ensure that we are not infringing anyone else’s IP."

"However, for the avoidance of doubt, in this case, this game – which was coded by a third-party developer 5 years ago – is being taken down.”

At the time of this writing, the game in question -- Pac-Avoid -- was still available for play on King's royalgames.com website.

Gamasutra has reached out to Epic Shadow Entertainment representatives for comment, and will update this story accordingly.





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Comments


Jonathan Ghazarian
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Nice. They're denying that they commissioned a clone AND threw the developer of the clone under the bus all in one statement. Very professional.

Jon Smith
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Oh what? A major publisher uses under handed tactics? Oh what's that? They're also gigantic hypocrites that are only interested in dollar signs? WHAT'S THAT YOU SAY!? Major publishers deny accusations that will utterly destroy their claims of self defense and appearing sympathetic? I'm absolutely shocked. No really I am.

Justin Speer
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It really is hard not to be righteously indignant with these jokers. Aside from the fact they cloned the game... Pac-Avoid? Really? Not just the name but the font is styled just like Pac-Man. Hilarious.

Adam Merkel
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Anyone else feeling a vibe that this is starting to equate to the cliche high school drama story arc where the popular kid "befriends" the smart kid in order to cheat off of his/her assignments, but once he/she figures out what's going on the popular kid threatens him/her even though it's all lies?

Now, if only general news sites would cover stories like these... Reality would crash into them so hard...

rob legg
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That's AWESOME, Matt. Congrats!

Daneel Filimonov
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The only people King is fooling is themselves. It's funny to think that anything that happens in the developer community goes unnoticed. It's better to man up and fess up to things like this rather than to act all innocent and PR-like and try to make it go down the drain without anyone taking a notice. It's looks quite immature. As well, people from other industries also receive this sort of news and it gives game developers a bad image. Quite ridiculous...!

Greg Quinn
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I don't know what upsets me more. The fact they deliberately cloned a game they couldn't sign, or that they offered a measly $3k for making a clone of it. With King's coffers you'd think they would offer a bit more than that.

Josef Wienerroither
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So now i sit here and wait that they shut down "Candy Crush Saga" too.

Reason:
In 2008 I was sub-contracted to create a theme for a game i developed before in 2007. This 2007 game was a clone of "Bejeweled". That clone did of course not go well with Popcap, so my contractor contacted me again to create different theme in 2008. So i came up with this "Candy" theme in 2008 ( four full years before King launched Candy crush saga). So does this make me the original idea owner? Or my contractor ?

Here's the proof:
My "Bejeweled" clone design from 2007:
http://www.frogsinspace.at/?p=440

Which i replaced with my "Candy" themed design in 2008,
http://www.frogsinspace.at/?p=438

The candy theme was an original idea by myself, already in 2008
I'm waiting for the King-millions to be washed onto my bank account - NOW !
;-)

Aaron San Filippo
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Interesting! Did this game ever see the light of day commercially?

Abel Bascunana Pons
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Josef, had you trademarked the word "candy" you'd be right to ask for some piece of the pie. Apple has registered the word and nobody is claiming anything here.
When you have a successful game, it's logic to some degree that you want to protect your busineess and this is a normal practice among game companies.

Having said that, let's explain some things:

- The Banner Saga affair is that King opposed their creators' company to trademark the whole "Banner Saga" name. This is done because if they didn't do that, any other company that releases a similar King game with the word "Saga" in it, or a completely different game like Banner Saga, could oppose King to release their games with the word "Saga" in the game title. King is not telling to remove Saga from Banner Saga title, but trademarking Saga. If they did not oppose to the trademark registration, the court would rule against King if any other title with the word Saga that could try to take advantage of their games would be released. This is a normal practice, as we've seen with Bethesda and Mojang with the Scrolls trademark. Both companies finally reached an agreement and I guess it will happen the same with King and Banner Saga creators.

About the Pac clone, if you've been at flashgamelicence.com, you'll see how many games are clones of others. That's no problem, as game mechanics cannot be copyrighted. The problem is always with the game title or if the assets are rip-offs. The latter happened with The Sim Social from EA and The Ville from Zynga, and if you do some research, you'll see that some games are ripping off the assets from King's games, and this can and must be persecuted of course. I thing most of the devs here would do the same if being in the same situation.
Btw, $3k is an average price for browers based games that have some degree of exclusivity to be later sold to other game portals.

And if you ask me, yes, I work for King. And I must say that, having worked at 8 different game companies, that King is by far the company that best treats his employees. The board and their CEOs are very open-minded guys always open to suggestions, and they never look over anyone's shoulders. Every employee can make an impact on how things are done in the company. If someone wants to make believe King are the new evil-doers, is because of their great current success, otherwise these trademark news would have gone unnoticed by most.

Having said that, King was a bit naive not to foresee the ruckus their action would generate among the gamer and dev community. This might have happened because the legal guys might not be acquainted with the needed sensibility to understand how this issue would be perceived by the community, and that was a mistake, but I also think they learned the lesson. And I reiterate this, I'm no PR nor have any commission for uttering this words, King is one of the best places one can work at. Another thing is that many devs think this are not real or AAA games, that's another story.

Was King to act evil and litigating with every game with dissimilar game mechanics as theirs that uses some of their registered trademarks, many devs at King would flee away not to earn a bad reputation, but i'm pretty sure this won't happen as some common-sense measures will be put into place to avoid that.

Matt Wilson
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Abel, you're handwaving away the allegation made by Epic Shadow that they were expressly contacted to clone Scamperghost and attempt to beat its release date, and that makes your other comments look naive.

I know it burns to have your employer dragged through the muck, and we're all aware of how much CCS is being cloned in both partial name and mechanics in the mobile space, but you'd best serve King by not getting into it. People other than fellow devs do come to Gamasutra and post; you're making yourself a target.

Abel Bascunana Pons
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I thank you for not wanting me to become a target of those who are not fellow devs, but always that I express an opinion, I'm aware of any potential consequences. If I did not express my views for fear of going against what most think, I wouldn't be honest with myself. I give my point of view because I'm in a position where I can see how King works at a level that most of the community ignores.

"and that makes your other comments look naive."

You can only say that if you only have thought about the issue with the conditioned view that this is a war of David vs. Golliath. If you deem yourself totally impartial, let me ask you:

Have you thought why an indie company talks about a story that happened 4 years ago, now that King is under public scrutiny? Why they didn't do this before? You can also ask yourself if Scamperghost did not made use of an intellectual properly, namely Pacman. You can't say you made a game with brand new game mechanics and after 4 years accusing another company from blatantly copying your game when you also used the intellectual property of a renowned game, and signed an agreement with another publisher that paid you more money. Who is most right or wrong here? King was the culprit and Stolen Goose was the ethical hero? Come on, we are grown-up here. They were both doing business and each side looked for their own personal interests.
By the way, I was not at King yet when all this happened and this is, again, just my personal opinion, not on behalf of anyone but myself.

Josef Wienerroither
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Abel, thanks for the reply.
Of course i was only joking.
I can understand that King wants to protect their IP. But King does'nt exist in a bubble. Trademarking a word like "Candy" is giving them exactly the same public flak like Bethesda got with their Scrolls thing. And both cases deserve it to the full amount IMHO. Wether King cares about their public image is another question, it's seriously damaged in the developer community as far i can see. But honestly i do not know how it's image was before that ...

Alan Boody
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Josef,

The funny part here is that even though I don't agree that Bethesda should control the "scrolls" mark. I do think that King going after "candy" and "saga" is far worse than Bethesda going after "scrolls."

What makes King far worse in this is the fact that the IP their trying to protect is nothing but one of the biggest clones ever: it both cloned the candy theme from other games and the actual gameplay itself.

Even their argument that they're just trying to protect themselves from clones falls short in the excuse for applying for the marks "candy" and "saga." They can easily protect their IP with the marks "Candy Crush Saga" and "Candy Crush." They don't need a mark for "candy" or "saga" to do it.

I honestly believe that they're trying to gain those marks for the inherit value in controlling the words "candy" and "saga" for titles of work in various publications. I believe that the whole cloning argument is just an excuse to gain unfair and unethical control over those words.

Steven Christian
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Exactly!
They should have trademarked "Candy Crush" or "Candy Crush Saga" but not the individual words.

Claiming that they have to litigate to protect their trademarks is absolutely correct, but they would not have had to do this if they had not tried to trademark the individual words in the first place.

So they are still wholly at fault.

Artur Moreira
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AA2LNWFmzgA

So they market a "cool" attitude for their applicants, but are in fact a mediocre company.. With so much money, the least they could do is to make a decent game.. :/

Abel Bascunana Pons
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Josef, registering game titles, no matter if they are compounded of one or two words, is an habitual practice among game companies, we like it or not. I do not agree with that, but I understand the reasoning behind. It's a matter of protecting their business.

The mistake that King made was the sloppiness in explaining to the game press why they trademarked the word Candy and why they do not want to force to change Banner Saga's name but that they are forced to oppose to its trademark by how the law works. Otherwise I think this would have not spiralled out of control.

I didn't like what Bethesda did either, but again, we cannot extend what the lawyers of a company do to what the developers associated with the same company do. I don't think Obsidian or the Dishonored guys were involved on the Scrolls issue, and that's why I'm still interested on what Bethesda does as a publisher.

Artur, I think you can understand that some people prefer to play match-3 games than Assassin's Creed. Also you are showing a lack of respect to the many indie developers that make games and have reached agreements with King to publish their games on its portal. Aren't their games decent to your standards? well, that's fine and a respectable opinion. Not everybody likes casual games. Even assuming they made a mistake with the Pacman clone, which I don't think so as I explained before, they have been reaching agreements with indie devs during the last 10 years, and if they were so anti-indie, they wouldn't have this policy to begin with. 10 years. That should tell something.

Michael Thornberg
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Abel, the issue here is that King is trying to go 'Tim Langdell' on companies and people. Also, they haven't simply trademarked 'Candy' as is the case: http://tess2.uspto.gov/bin/showfield?f=doc&state=4803:xx2iu5.2.28 This is the Trademark for Candy Crush, look through that 'Goods and Services'. They basically opened a dictionary and copied every single object (and action) they could find in there. If that is not a clear case of an attempt to block any clones, I don't know what is.

Doug Cox
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King.com is one of the most underhanded companies, and I knew this before this article because of King.com's cash games, where King.com will place winning "fake" players in the games just so people lose their real money and King.com get off scott free because they would say that another "player" has won the prize.

Also, King.com knew that people were using gaming bots to out play real players.

Matt Porter
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I'm glad to see this story getting attention. I'm the developer from Epic Shadow who was contacted by King to make the clone "Pac Avoid". I've sent Gamasutra an email to get my side of the story so hopefully we'll get an update soon.

Abel Bascunana Pons
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Hi Michael,

The link says the session expired, but I could find and read what you say. Now for example, check "Angry Birds" from Rovio (there are several entries in the DB), you'll see the list of Goods and Services is tree times the length of what King registered for Candy Crush. This is only an example of what all companies do to protect their brand, and as I said, is a normal practice. I'm sure we can find more examples.

Doug, I do not know where you withdraw this information from, but I don't believe King does what you affirm, mainly because the money they could earn from these prizes is ridiculously low, i can even say insignificant, compared to what they earn from fb or mobile.

About the bots issue, I don't know, it might be true though, unluckily I don't have this info in my hands as I don't work on the browser-based games department. Another thing is being capable of detecting and banning players that use bots, and that's not easy, it happens all time, from Bejewelled by Popcap to many MMOs, for example in Runescape by Jagex, they have an ongoing battle since they released the game many years ago and even investing many resources new bots are regularly created. One thing is knowing about, other thing is being able to take effective measures.

Michael Thornberg
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OK, I found Angry Birds and yes, they also have a lengthy list as you said. They also have several claims some of which are dead, most of them though have fairly short lists. Except that one you mentioned (Serial#:79102769 Reg#:4200545) So yes, you are correct.

However, a clear difference here is that they haven't claimed 'angry' nor 'birds' which King have with Candy and Saga (but not Crush interestingly enough) So tell me how King is behaving any differently than Tim Langdell again.. Because yes, I do understand that companies need to protect their trademark. I truly do. But there is a difference between protecting an idea, and also open up for merchandising (which they [Rovio] did with their lengthy list) and going totally overboard when trying to trademark key words of the English Dictionary, and threatning to sue anyone who got a name containing any of those key words.

There is a clear difference between protecting 'Candy Crush Saga' and going after 'The Banner Saga' which not only is another game entirely, the only offence (according to King) they did was to have 'Saga' in their title. What is worse is that 'Saga' is actually a rejected trademark. The question is if King is going after any of these as well then:

Candy land (1998)
Candy bandit (1983)
Candy land adventure (1996)
Bullet candy (2007)
Candy stripe (2001)
Candace Kane’s candy factory (2008)
Crush (2007)
Crush deluxe (1997)
WWE crush hour (2003)
Alien crush (1988)
Jaki crush (1992)
Devil’s crush (2007)
50 mission crush (1984)
Crush, crumble and chomp (1981)
The 7th saga (1993)
Metal saga (2006)
Panzer dragoon saga (1998)
Romancing saga 1 till 3 (1992-1995)
Saga frontier 1 och 2 (1998-1999)
Vanguard: Saga of heroes (2007)
Puffy’s saga (1989)
Star saga (1989)
The granstream saga (1998)

My point is, King have messed this up themselves, and what they can do is to stop acting like a-s against other developers and care about protecting their own game, rather than going after anyone with a keyword in their title.

I also hope that you understand that this is in no way directed towards you :)

Abel Bascunana Pons
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Michael, as I explained before, they are forced to oppose the registration of any name that contains Saga by how the trademark laws work, otherwise if there appeared a clone (or not) with the name Saga they wouldn't have any legal protection.

They are not asking, as far as I know, to drop Saga from the Banner Saga title but against registering the name with Saga in it. So they are not actually "opposing" their devs to use the name Banner Saga. That would be a really big mistake. Now imagine that Banner Saga was registered and the devs decide to make a Match-3 game the likes of Candy Crush, but with banners instead of candies. You'll agree with me that a casual gamer that is unaware of the fact and has played previous King games with the word Saga in it, will automatically think the game is made by King. The name Saga would be purposedly used to usher users from King's games. That's the point summarized in a simplistic way.

If the games you listed were to be released today, I think they would oppose to their trademark registration, which again, this does not mean King would prevent them to use those names commercially.

Then you can think of some examples. At the left, the original name, at the right, a game made by another company that wants registers the name.

Devil's Crush >>> Evil Crash (two completely different words but sounding similar)
The 7th Saga >>> The 8th Saga (a completely different game but reminds of a sequel of the original)
Romancing Saga >>> Roman Sim Saga (a completely different game but sounding similar)
Vanguard: Saga of Heroes >>> Retaguard: Saga of Heroes (a clone of the original)

What woud you do if you were the lawyer at any of the original companies? I believe you would tell those companies, in most cases, to change their name titles, even if they are completely different genres than the original ones. This are edge cases of course, but it can help to understand the blurred shades in-between.

Another example:

Imagine some companies make a turn-based game inspired in a Nordic theme like Banner Saga, and other companies use the same Nordic theme but are not rpgs but casual games, racing games, whatever. Now imagine they call those games "Banner Vikings", "Nordic Saga", "Barter Saga", "Banner Signal". Are you sure in any case the Banner Saga devs would not take any measures against them? Then why they do want to trademark Banner Saga but to protect themselves from such cases, besides the commercial rights to exploit, preserve and extend their brand? Then you can better understand what King is attempting in a similar way. And, if they registered Banner Saga, nothing stops them not to go against King games using the Saga name. In this case though, King is opposing the trademark, not telling the Banner Saga guys not to use their name in a commercial fashion.

Again I remark I speak only on behalf of myself. I can be misguided, but this is my understanding of the whole issue.

Alan Boody
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@Abel,

Let's say that there was a company that purposely tried to capitalize on "The Banner Saga" name with clones or what not with similar sounding titles. Suddenly, Stoic cannot do anything to protect themselves if they can't trademark their game's name "The Banner Saga."

The fact that "The Banner Saga" got caught in this mix shows exactly why King doesn't have any right to gaining control of the "saga" mark; nor do they have any right to the "candy" or "crush" marks.

They're commonly used words in various titles of products and other works.

Also, as I mentioned below and as Michael clearly pointed out, IF ANY company owned a mark for "saga' it would be Squaresoft.

Let me finish with this, Abel. Even though I don't expect to get an answer: what game does saga fit the title for better? "The Banner Saga," a game that includes a viking story and banners or "Candy Crush Saga," a match three game with a candy themed skin?

Michael Thornberg
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No I don't agree. If Stoic made a 3-match game called 'the Banner saga' the gamer would not think it is automatically made by King. Because there are many games with 'Saga' in their title (as I pointed out) And to be honest, because of this debacle 'Candy crush saga' is the only King title I now know of. I think you think you are more famous than you really are. And to be fair I asked my son (whom also plays that game) what the title was. He simply stated: Candy Crush (notice the lack of saga) so again no... just having Saga in there does not automatically create a connection.

And what is more, Stoic tried to trademark the *whole* name 'the Banner saga' (not just 'saga') and they are perfectly right to do so. Or (to be honest) King too have no right to the 'Candy crush saga' either (which they filed for... twice).

As for your examples.

Devils crush -> evil crash.. as long as the games are different (not clones) I don't see a problem. They key here is that the games each stay true to their titles and actually makes sense. Otherwise there would be an issue, but this kind of battle happens with every trademark.

The 7th saga -> 8th saga. Provided they actually trademarked it (not all game companies do you see) yes, there would be an issue, and a battle. I hope the original author wins. But usually it is the biggest pocket that does that (as we have seen in other cases)

Romancing Saga -> Roman Sim Saga (No issue here. The meanings are not even the same. Or are you perhaps thinking that 'Romancing' and 'Roman' are similar.. or perhaps because of the 'Roman Sim'? Because I can assure you a native english speaking person would strongly disagree. They are not even pronounced in the same way. Not even close.)

Vanguard: Saga of Heroes -> Retaguard: Saga of Heroes (This is another example of someone tailgating a famous brand. They would burn in court.)

As for your Banner thinking: Had King not tried to stop Stoic from trademarking the *whole* name. That would not be an issue. You try to make it so that unless they trademarked their name they would have no good means of defense. Yet, by blocking Stoic that is exactly where King put them. In a weak position. Because again (and hopfully finally) they did not try to trademark 'saga' they tried to trademark 'the Banner saga'. Or perhaps King is willing to drop their own trademark claim regarding 'Candy crash saga' for the same reason?

How many Minecraft styled games are there now again? Or games that have either their title or style of it, resemble Minecraft? Plenty.. In fact too many. But most of them are so clearly bogus that most gamers would (and are) simple brushing them aside. But those (few) that are too close, Mojäng does take action. Because Notch have trademarked that name. And unlike most developers he actually got pretty deep pockets now. So battle him at your peril. The point I am (trying) to make here is that he seems to me be handling this in a much more relaxed way. Only dealing with the more serious offenders. You don't see complaints about that do you?

So, King can either be nice and play well with others. Or stand as a bully in the corner of the yard.

Now, with risk of repeating myself. I do understand the need to protect IP and having trademarks. It is something I personally deal with in various forms. So, if bringing up the need for trademarks. Think about what King did when they blocked a claim for having 'saga' in it. I will end with a quote from Stoic (coming from King):

“Applicant’s THE BANNER SAGA mark is confusingly and deceptively similar to Opposer’s previously used SAGA Marks.” (From Kings objections)

Clearly now you can see that it isn't about having 'saga' in their title. It is about King claming to *own* 'saga' (which was rejected by the trademark office) So, please drop that idea that King is trying to be fair here. They are clearly not. They want the keyword for themselves, where Stoic wanted to register the *whole* title: the Banner Saga. That is the only thing they filed for.

Abel Bascunana Pons
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"I think you think you are more famous than you really are."

Please Michael don't be offended. I'm just an employee who happens to be at King at this time, I love the place where I am now but I also know how volatile the gaming industry is. I might not the there in some near or distant future, so I do not feel any sense of superiority against anyone and I don't think most employees at King do, honestly.

Let me copy&paste what I found at http://www.inta.org/TrademarkBasics/FactSheets/Pages/OpposingaTra
demarkApplicationFactSheet.aspx:

"A formal decision to uphold or dismiss the opposition, thereby refusing or granting the registration, usually is issued in writing, although settlement agreements involving amendment of the opposed application, withdrawal of the opposition and restrictions on use are commonplace."

"An opposition proceeding often is also used to create leverage when an opposer seeks a coexistence agreement with the applicant. Faced with the threat of an opposition, the applicant may be more amenable to entering into an agreement that defines the scope of use of the respective marks."


So an opposition does not mean that the opposer is exclusively looking for a trademark refusal but forcing to enter an agreement to discuss the terms of use of the opposed trademark, and as it says on the quote, agreements involving ammendments and restrictions on use seem to be commonplace. (The Scrolls issue)

By the way, I believe that even Banner Saga was not trademarked, if a game was released with the same name, Stoic could alledge priority of use.

Anyways and whatever it may, I do only hope this is resolved in a positive way between both parts.

PS. For me Romancing Saga and Roman Sim Saga are similarly pronounced as I'm not a native English speaker =)

Alan Boody
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Why should Stoic have some sort of agreement with King? It's absolutely ridiculous that King thinks it should have ownership of the single word mark "saga." Prior use of the team, it's a generic term that describes an epic story, especially about vikings, and so forth.

Abel, you know as well as I do that King has no real right to the mark "saga." Stopping being intellectually dishonest here.

Alan Boody
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*stop

Michael Thornberg
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:) Don't worry, I am not offended at all.

"PS. For me Romancing Saga and Roman Sim Saga are similarly pronounced as I'm not a native English speaker =)"

:) I suspected as much, but the sounding of the two are really different.

Anyway, Please don't interpret whatever I say as me flaming you just because you happen to work there. That is not the case. I am fairly certain that had you not mentioned you work there, the result would have been the same :)

I should perhaps mention though that Matt Wilson is correct, you are making yourself a target. Because since King is not openly discussing this, then some might (incorrectly) use you instead. So, try to keep that in mind.

Back on topic though..

I don't think King was in the right to block Stoic. Because they do not have a 'saga' trademark. I could also go into a technical argument regarding the Swedish meaning of 'utsäga' (which is the the literal meaning of 'saga', not Norse Mythology epic tale like some believe) but I won't. It is already embarrassing enough that King is trying to convey some image that for instance 'sagorna Grimm' (sagorna is a plural form of saga in swedish) are deceptively close to their games. Honestly, as a Swede, it is truly embarrassing to see them behave like this.

Steven Christian
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I wish them luck pursuing the creators of 300+ Candy Saga games that have just been released:

http://itch.io/jam/candyjam

Alan Boody
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Hi Abel,

If any company were ever to have any measure of trademark rights to the word "candy" in video games it would be Hasbro. King wasn't close to being the first to use it; nor were they the first to use a candy theme in their game. As Michael illustrated above, there are numerous games to do so.

In fact, not only is Candy Crush Saga a clone of previously existing games -which I reckon to be in the hundreds- but it also added the candy theme that had been done in other games. So, in essence, King's big IP is nothing more than a clone itself.

Now, having said that I personally believe that King is only trying to get the marks "candy" and "saga" because those words would be HIGHLY valuable for a game company to have trademark. I don't think it has anything to do with clones; it's just that King is using that as an excuse to go after those trademarks.

King can easily fight off the other games that are trying to capitalize on their name with marks such as "Candy Crush" or "Candy Crush Saga." Those trademarks are PLENTY enough to go after the ones that 'cloned' or are purposely capitalizing on King's CCS game.

Remember, though. CCS is a clone itself both in theme and play. Which makes King, no matter what they would have done, a hypocrite.

Abel Bascunana Pons
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Guys, I'm not saying CC is an original IP, it's a match-3 game like there are hundreds of them, the difference and reason for its success I guess is that CC is very well executed in many aspects.

Alan, taking the default definition of the term, I'd say The Banner Saga is more legitimated to have the word Saga, BUT if you are simplifying the way you are doing it, CC also has a story as an excuse to the core gameplay. The same way, Banner Saga has an story that's an excuse for the core mechanics, a turn-based combat that happens in a single room which also changes its "skin" or background. I'm not criticizing the game at all here as I played BS some months ago online on Steam and I've been following it on Kickstarter before, I like it and I'm happy of its success. I'm just stablishing a more fair comparison based on the way you look at it, I hope you don't misunderstand my words.

Alan, I'm not a lawyer nor a judge. Maybe what we should ask first is why these terms can be registered at all. If they can, I can understand why many game companies are trying to do so. I don't think King is the only one trying to register one-word names of their games. I haven't checked it, but I guess words like Diablo, Sonic, Doom, Quake, Gothic, Mario, Columns, Loom, Karateka, Hostages, Dishonored... may also be trademarked. If we search more in-depth, I think we would be amazed of how many common words are trademarked.

Alan Boody
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@Abel,

There's a time when one-word trademarks are appropriate. A lot of people oppose the idea that Apple owns the "Apple" mark in relation to computers. But, that is the PERFECT case of when one-word marks are appropriate. Guess what? As unoriginal as the name of King is that is another case where a mark is applied appropriately. "King" has no real relationship to video games. So, in both the cases above with "Apple" and "King," in their respected fields, the trademarks are appropriate.

"Saga," "candy," and "crush" are common English words that are found in various titles. IN fact, saga has been an important word used in many previous titles not only of video games, but also books and other works. To try and claim a mark is King saying that they have more right to it that the numerous authors, game developers and other creative people that have used it throughout history.

So, despite the fact that Squareenix has the "Saga" series, that Hasbro already has released a game called "Candy Land" for video games, and numerous other examples, King thinks they have rights to own those marks? Then, if anyone who dares to appropriately name their game must enter an agreement with King? You don't think that's wrong?

And, the argument that "saga" fits in the "Candy Crush Saga" game title is laughable. The first time I actually seen the logo for "Candy Crush Saga" I didn't even know that "saga" was part of the title. To me, it was like "Why would they add saga onto that?" I mean, even though it seems to include a story the story itself doesn't even match the definition of "saga:"

"a long story of heroic achievement, especially a medieval prose narrative in Old Norse or Old Icelandic:"

But, guess what does?

I'm not sure how anyone could argue that King is in the right here without laughing.

R W
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There are some interesting points being made so I'll try and jump in here and hopefully add to the discussion.

Dungeons and Dragons Tower of Doom by Capcom didn't have to be renamed because Doom was used by iD Software. In this example Capcom used the word Doom as part of the title and they haven't been forced to change it when being rereleased on xbox live arcade.

I think whether or not King's game is original or not, while potentially having some sort of impact on any legal scenario, can be ignored for a moment. If they had simply gone for registering the full name Candy Crush Saga things would be fine I think. The way they went about things it seems they want to squat on the word Candy to either force their competitors, who may or may not be trying to piggyback on their success, out of business or at the least become the only game people think of when the word candy comes to mind.

"Michael, as I explained before, they are forced to oppose the registration of any name that contains Saga by how the trademark laws work, otherwise if there appeared a clone (or not) with the name Saga they wouldn't have any legal protection."

Saga is being used descriptively as part of the title kinda like how Star Wars doesn't go after games like Halo Wars, Gears of Wars, or any other g

Cody Kostiuk
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Going after The Banner Saga is obviously frivolous. I believe King's lawyers are just stirring the pot to line their own pockets. If I was King, I'd dump those lawyers and save a bunch of money and future headaches.

Michael Thornberg
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What if every developer for this year only, would name every single title they make + saga. Like 'Chimera effect saga' and so on..

Then by the end we would have tens of thousands of sagas out there. Clearly marked as such. As 'stories told' to players. Because that is what a 'saga' is. A told story.

Jeffrey Crenshaw
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Well, there is this going on: http://itch.io/jam/candyjam


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