Mobile developers that make games with sugary treats might soon get a call asking them to cease and desist.
Yesterday, GamesBeat reported that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office approved the “Candy” mark for Candy Crush Saga developer King. While other companies still have 30 days to prove to the USPTO that this trademark will hurt their business, that’s not stopping King from going after certain games that prominently feature candied treats.
The mobile publisher is petitioning Apple to have certain games that use the word removed from the App Store, whether or not they play like Candy Crush Saga (where gamers must match three or more pieces of sweets to remove them from a field of play). The company explained to GamesBeat that it won’t, however, go after every company that uses “Candy.”
“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,” a King spokesperson told GamesBeat. “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.”
So what will King go after? One game that King is pursuing is called All Candy Casino Slots — Jewels Craze Connect: Big Blast Mania Land. King has an issue with the title and especially with its icon.
“[The game’s] icon in the App Store just says ‘Candy Slots,’ [which focuses] heavily on our trademark,” said the King spokesperson.
If you’re wondering how it’s fair that a company can trademark a dictionary word (one that’s been in use since the 15th century), industry and corporations have set a precedence for this dozens of times previously.
“The dictionary gives words a meaning,” explains trademarking website TM Web. “You can not register the mark for products of that description. You can register the mark for all other products.”
For instance, let’s say a company made computers and called them Apples. Apple is already listed in the dictionary as a fruit, but not as a computer. Apple computers gives the word a second meaning that the company can (and has) trademarked. This will protect the company from other companies that might want to release a computer on the market called “Apple” to confuse customers.
The Google Play market and the iOS App Store are both filled with copycat games. Many developers are looking to capitalize on consumer confusion. While King has the right to protect itself from that, it might run the risk of doing so at the expense of legitimate developers that find that the use of candy simply makes their game better.
Since gaming is a creative medium, if a developer came up with the idea to use candy on its own — without looking to Candy Crush Saga — it could potentially argue that in court and win, according to TM Web.