A couple of weeks back, we wrote a story about Candy Crush Saga creator King filing for broad trademarks on the individual words “candy” and “saga”. We questioned its intentions and highlighted some of the damage those registrations have caused and the response by indie game developers to it. But as this story grows larger than the goodie bag can contain, we learn even more about King’s shady trademark practices.
A development has come from the maker of Candy Swipe, a mobile game in which players try to match candy to clear a board and score points. Albert Ransom outlines that he has been quietly disputing King’s candy trademark application for a while now.
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).
With Candy Swipe being released two ears prior to Candy Crush, Ransom thought he had a pretty good case for invalidating King’s trademark application. However, King was not about to make it easy on him. Instead of recognizing its mistake and pulling its application or changing the game’s name, it went a slightly different route.
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).
That’s right. Instead of fighting Ransom’s attempt at invalidating the Candy Crush trademark based on the merits of the claim, King decided to fight dirty. It bought some completely unrelated IP and trademark for the sole purpose of using that older game to invalidate Ransom’s trademark to protect its own. That is frustrating to see.
If King is successful in this, it could set a very dangerous precedent for future trademark law. Such a move would create a system where the biggest players get to control the process and force smaller players out. King should not be allowed to do this. One would hope that the USPTO can see through this action and put King in its place.
We also believe, in much the same way that Ransom believes, that King has violated its own publicly stated position.
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.
Unfortunately, it seems that King does not believe that itself.