In the past few days, the makers of Candy Crush Saga have gone after games that use the words “Candy” and “Saga” for trademark infringement — I’d keep the lawyers on speed-dial if were the Orange Crush company.
Earlier this week, GamesBeat reported that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office approved King’s request for the “Candy” mark. This is in addition to the “Candy” trademark the company already owns in the European Union. While the U.S. process will require King to wait 30 days in case anyone else would like to appeal the patent office’s approval, the Candy Crush Saga developer is already sending letters out to studios that are using the words that it claims belongs to it for the use in its popular free-to-play puzzle game.
That includes the indie developer Stoic Studio, which is responsible for the epic viking role-playing title The Banner Saga … you can probably guess what happened next.
As with “Candy,” King is going after the “Saga” trademark as well. When Stoic went to trademark the full name of its game, King filed an opposition with the USPTO to prevent Stoic from getting the legal rights to its game.
When people found out about this, thanks to the leaked legal documents, King decided to defend its actions in a statement:
“King has not and is not trying to stop Banner Saga from using its name. We do not have any concerns that Banner Saga is trying build on our brand or our content. However, like any prudent company, we need to take all appropriate steps to protect our IP, both now and in the future.
In this case, that means preserving our ability to enforce our rights in cases where other developers may try to use the Saga mark in a way which infringes our IP rights and causes player confusion. If we had not opposed Banner Saga’s trade mark application, it would be much easier for real copy cats to argue that their use of ‘Saga’ was legitimate.
This is an important issue for King because we already have a series of games where ‘Saga’ is key to the brand which our players associate with a King game; Candy Crush Saga, Bubble Witch Saga, Pet Rescue Saga, Farm Heroes Saga and so on. All of these titles have already faced substantive trademark and copyright issues with clones.”
So King “is not trying to stop” Stoic from using its name. It just wants to stop the company from getting the trademark, which would cripple The Banner Saga creator’s attempts to prevent others from cloning its property.
Well, that statement finally prompted Stoic to comment on the matter.
“Two years ago, the three of us at Stoic set out to make an epic Viking game: The Banner Saga,” Stoic cofounder Alex Thomas said in a statement. “We did, and people loved it, so we’re making another one. We won’t make a Viking saga without the word Saga, and we don’t appreciate anyone telling us we can’t. King.com claims they’re not attempting to prevent us from using The Banner Saga, and yet their legal opposition to our trademark filing remains. We’re humbled by the outpouring of support and honored to have others stand with us for the right to their own Saga. We just want to make great games.”
King has every right to protect its trademarks and intellectual property. A search for “Candy Crush Saga” on the Google Play store reveals a lengthy list of apps and games that look similar and use “Candy” in their titles. Those products are likely trying to cause confusion and get downloads from consumers who can’t tell the difference. With the “Candy” trademark, King will have an easier time of going after those types of nefarious clones.
The Banner Saga is a different matter.
The PC RPG has nothing in common with Candy Crush Saga. They are both games, but The Banner Saga is a tactical turn-based battler featuring a literal saga that tells the story of various factions of vikings. Candy Crush, on the other hand, has players matching up three pieces of treats to make them disappear.
We’ve reached out to King to see if it could further explain why it continues to go after a game that is clearly not trying to infringe on Candy Crush Saga. We were turned down for an interview with King chief executive Riccardo Zacconi, but we will update this post with any new comments from the social-game developer.