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King's CEO: 'Our policy is to protect our IP and to also respect the IP of others'

King's CEO: 'Our policy is to protect our IP and to also respect the IP of others'

January 27, 2014 | By Christian Nutt

"At its simplest, our policy is to protect our IP and to also respect the IP of others."
- King CEO, Riccardo Zacconi, in an open letter on the developer's website.

Stockholm-based social game studio King has caught a lot of heat lately. The Candy Crush Saga developer has aggressively pursued its IP rights while accusations of cloning arose around a King game called Pac-Avoid -- an alleged clone of another studio's Scamperghost.

In an open letter posted to the company's website, Zacconi takes a hard line against the view that it is too aggressive on trademark protection, saying that the company needs to protect itself from other developers unfairly capitalizing on the outsize success of its games.

"Not surprisingly, some developers have seen an opportunity to take advantage of [Candy Crush Saga's] popularity, and have published games with similar sounding titles and similar looking graphics. We believe it is right and reasonable to defend ourselves from such copycats," Zacconi writes.

Of being a copycat itself, however, Zacconi is more contrite. Writes Zacconi, "... the bottom line is that we should never have published Pac-Avoid. We have taken the game down from our site, and we apologize for having published it in the first place."

Things get murkier when it comes to The Banner Saga -- King is opposing developer Stoic's trademark to the game's title, as it uses "saga" as a brand for its line of popular puzzle games. King has said it intends to allow the developer to use the word "saga" in its' games' titles, but Zacconi clearly states that the company continues to oppose Stoic's trademark.

"We're not trying to stop Stoic from using the word Saga but we had to oppose their application to preserve our own ability to protect our own games. Otherwise, it would be much easier for future copycats to argue that use of the word 'Saga' when related to games, was fair play," the CEO writes.

For more, you can read the whole letter, entitled "Our approach to IP." Confused about how the trademark system? Two lawyers have posted informative blogs on Gamasutra: Jas Purewal explains the basics and Mona Ibrahim discusses how and why these things happen.

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