King has been criticized for its actions after securing a trademark on the word “candy.”
The CEO of King, the Candy Crush Saga developer that has been taking heat recently for its trademark of the word “candy,” has published an open letter in which he addresses the company’s handling of trademarks and allegations that it cloned a competing game.
King recently made headlines after it was granted a trademark on the word “candy” in Europe and began pursuing the same trademark in the United States, resulting in numerous developers being asked to change their products’ names. Among those affected is Stoic Studio, the maker of The Banner Saga; King is opposing its attempt to file a trademark on Banner Saga due to King’s line of games having “Saga” in the name. King says it isn’t trying to stop Stoic from using the Banner Saga name and that it’s merely doing what it must to protect its trademarks .
In the newly published open letter from King CEO Riccardo Zacconi, the company’s handling of trademarks and intellectual property are among the subjects covered. Noting how much criticism has been directed toward King due to all of this, he stated, “[T]he truth is that there is nothing very unusual about trademarking a common word for specific uses. Think of ‘Time,’ ‘Money,’ ‘Fortune,’ ‘Apple,’ and ‘Sun,’ to name a few. We are not trying to control the world’s use of the word ‘Candy;’ having a trade mark doesn’t allow us to do that anyway. We’re just trying to prevent others from creating games that unfairly capitalise on our success.”
As for Banner Saga, Zacconi said, “We don’t believe that Banner Saga resembles any of our games but we already have a series of games where ‘Saga’ is key to the brand which our players associate with King, such as Candy Crush Saga, Bubble Witch Saga, Pet Rescue Saga, Farm Heroes Saga and so on. … 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.”
After King’s aggressive moves to protect its trademarks came to light recently, Matthew Cox, the developer of a game called Scamperghost, alleged that in 2009 King hired a developer to clone a game of his that King was originally set to publish. Cox points out the similarities between his game and the one King published — Pac-Avoid, which has since been taken down — while noting King’s use of the word “Pac” (as in Pac-Man) does “exactly the same thing they’re trying to stop people from doing with their ‘Candy’ trademark.” Cox also shared what he claims is an email from the developer of Pac-Avoid stating that King specifically asked for a game copying Cox’s Scamperghost.
Zacconi avoided addressing these specific allegations, instead emphasizing that Pac-Avoid was a game developed externally five years ago. He did admit it “strongly resembles” Scamperghost before stating, “The details of the situation are complex, but the bottom line is that we should never have published Pac-Avoid. We have taken the game down from our site, and we apologise for having published it in the first place.
“Let me be clear: This unfortunate situation is an exception to the rule. King does not clone games, and we do not want anyone cloning our games.”
Candy Crush Saga Developer Apologizes for Publishing Alleged Clone