There doesn’t seem to be an end to the art of trademark trolling. One would have thought it would have ended with Tim Langdell being sent packing after trying to enforce his trademark on the single word “Edge”. Not long ago we had Bethesda claiming that its trademark on “The Elder Scrolls” blocked any and all use of the single word “scrolls” in game titles. It used that claim to force Mojang to change the name of its fantasy card game “Scrolls”. We also have Zynga and its claim to any game title ending in “ville”.
Unfortunately, this type of behavior is not going to stop any time soon.
A new trademark bully in the making has entered the ring. King, the creator of the hit match three game Candy Crush Saga has been granted a trademark on the word “candy” in relation to games. Not “Candy Crush” or “Candy Crush Saga”, just “Candy”. King has taken no time in enforcing this new trademark.
On January 15, 2014 the filing was approved. And now, a mere five days later, reports are coming in from developers that they’re being asked to remove their app (or prove that their game doesn’t infringe upon the trademark).
“Lots of devs are frustrated cause it seems so ridiculous” says Benny Hsu, the maker of All Candy Casino Slots – Jewel Craze Connect: Big Blast Mania Land. Benny’s game, which shares no similarities with King’s properties aside from the word ‘candy,’ is one of a number of games that have been targeted by King.
I understand the need to protect trademarks from malicious actors who want to profit off of your branding, but going after other games simply for using a single word from your game’s title in their title is going way too far. How many games use the word “Crush” or “Saga”? Why not go after them too? King’s trademark indicates that it feels that the word “candy” in the title is the only part really worth branding and defending.
Unfortunately for many game makers out there, Apple and Google seem to be more than willing to just go along with any trademark claim and will pass on any claim from King. This will cause a lot of problems for game developers who are trying to build their own branding around a candy themed game.
I really can’t understand why King cannot be happy in holding and enforcing a trademark on the phrase “Candy Crush”. Such a trademark is plenty unique and strong enough to allow for King’s own branding to flourish as well as provide the need protection from those who are truly trying to profit off King’s branding.
Of course, I do wonder what will happen when Hasbro decides to bring its board game Candyland to the iPhone. Would King be so brash as to claim Hasbro has not right to use its over 50 year-old game title on its very own electronic adaptation? That would certainly be a fight to watch.
I would hope that as such disputes gain notoriety in media that lawmakers will reconsider the laws around trademarks to make these kind of single word claims more difficult to enforce.