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ZeptoLab tries to crush King’s CANDY trademark

Mar 25, 2014

Let’s face facts: nobody likes King’s attempts to trademark the word CANDY. When the story first broke back in January, it was a public relations nightmare for King. In an attempt to protect their Candy Crush Saga IP, they obtained the trademark for the word CANDY in the EU, and were trying to do the same in the US.

The games community – and indie developers, in particular – were quite vocal in their opposition to King’s tomfoolery. But few have managed to take any sort of meaningful action, and those who’ve tried have been shut down in the most unseemly of ways. Just ask Albert Ransom.

It took a body as big as the IGDA to seemingly pressure King to withdraw its trademark application on the word CANDY in the US.

But what about outside of the US? To really make an impact in the EU, it was going to require a company that could bring out the big guns. Somebody with a game that’s attained the same kind of household name recognition as King’s Candy Crush Saga has. Someone like ZeptoLab, creators of Cut the Rope.

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On March 20th, ZeptoLab filed a claim in London that, if successful, will see King’s EU trademark registration on the word CANDY cancelled. 

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King doesn’t want your CANDY; abandons trademark filing

Feb 25, 2014

For a substance so sweet, it’s surprising how bad a taste the word CANDY has left in people’s mouths this year. And it all started in January, when it was revealed by Gamezebo that King (Candy Crush Saga) held the European trademark on the word CANDY, and was in the process of obtaining a similar mark in the US.

But now, Kotaku reports, that trademark filing has been withdrawn.

“Yesterday, King filed for abandonment of the trademark in the United States,” Kotaku’s Jason Schreier writes. “When reached by Kotaku, King confirmed the trademark abandonment but declined to comment.”

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King has bought an old trademark, and you're not going to like how they're using it

Feb 12, 2014

Oops, they did it again. Back in January, Candy Crush Saga maker King underwent a great deal of public scrutiny about the choices they’ve made in the world of IP protection. Initially it was about a trademark on the word CANDY, but as the week unfolded it turned into a battle over Stoic’s The Banner Saga trademark, and then even accusations of cloning. King CEO Riccardo Zacconi managed to quell the internet’s furor with a seemingly heartfelt response on the issues that had been brought up.

But now some new information has been brought to our attention that doesn’t quite jive with what Zacconi was preaching.

Lost in the shuffle of that January week was a little story about Albert Ransom, the creator of CandySwipe. As the creator of a match-3 game involving candy that pre-dated every incarnation of Candy Crush, Ransom had been fighting the CANDY CRUSH SAGA trademark for months. And he told Gamezebo that he intended to fight their mark on the word CANDY, too.

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Now, only weeks after our initial article, King is fighting back. 

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The best games of #CandyJam (so far)

Feb 1, 2014

After last week's debacle involving game developer King trademarking the word CANDY, game developers around the world vented their frustrations by participating in the Candy Jam, a game jam event designed solely to passive-aggressively taunt the trademark system as well as King's other embarrassment from last week, being accused of ripping off another developer’s game. The Candy Jam website sets its mantra as: "Because trademarking common words is ridiculous, because ethics matter and because it gives us an occasion to make another game jam."

Developers have since been working on creating their games, and uploading them to the Candy Jam website for others to check out. While the Candy Jam lasts through February 3rd, there are a good number of games already posted.

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One of the more polished games posted is Discord Games' Candy Chasm Saga, an endless-faller that involves falling down an chasm filled with candy, attempting to collect as much candy as possible while avoiding crashing into the scary-looking tokens floating about. Magnets are available to scoop up and make your candy-grabbing life easier, and golden apples provide limited invincibility. Candy Chasm Saga borrows art assets from Discord Games' full-time project, Chasm

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King CEO Riccardo Zacconi responds to… well, everything

Jan 27, 2014

Last week was a rough week to be King. Gamezebo broke the news on Monday that the company was trying to trademark the word CANDY in the US and already held the mark in the EU. On Tuesday, news surfaced that they were opposing The Banner Saga’s trademark because of their claim to the word SAGA. And then on Thursday, claims that King had cloned a game in 2009 were burning up the internet like wildfire.

Individually, King responded to each of these incidents… though their responses left a lot to be desired. Some, like how they handled the cloning situation – denying the accusation and destroying the evidence in one fell swoop – seemed downright sinister. But now, in the week following some difficult press, King CEO and Founder Riccardo Zacconi has issued an open letter to discuss all of these matters in a frank, open and honest way.

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“Over the last few days, there has been a vigorous debate both inside and outside King about how we protect our intellectual property,” Zacconi writes. “I want to set the record straight about where we stand on these issues, and clarify our philosophy on intellectual property. At its simplest, our policy is to protect our IP and to also respect the IP of others.”

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CandySwipe: Already fighting the CANDY CRUSH SAGA trademark, prepared to fight CANDY too

Jan 24, 2014

Albert Ransom, the founder of Runsome Apps, first released CandySwipe to Android gamers on November 15, 2010 – a full four months before King debuted Candy Crush on King.com (now RoyalGames.com). Both games offer match-3 gameplay and both are built around a candy theme, but in our conversation with Ransom, he wasn’t crying “clone.” He’s just worried about the same thing King is: consumer confusion.

“If you start typing ‘is candy swip’ into google, you will get the auto complete ‘is candy swipe the same as candy crush’.” It’s a frustrating experience for a developer whose work came first and who, like King,  was quick to trademark. The CANDYSWIPE trademark was granted to Ransom in July 2011.

But being first and having a mark isn’t going to do much to sway public perception – especially when a similar competitor shoots to the top of the App Store.

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“Their game (and name) closely resembles CandySwipe; so much so, that CandySwipe is often ridiculed as a Candy Crush knock off,” says Ransom. “This infringes on OUR registered trademark and good will.”

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King releases statement on their opposition to The Banner Saga

Jan 22, 2014

In this week’s ongoing saga about King and their controversial “trademark trolling” of common dictionary words– oops, I just said the “s” word in that last sentence, I hope I don’t need to call a lawyer now. Anyway, after the whole CANDY debacle on Monday, the internet then learned that King was also targeting recent indie darling The Banner Saga from Stoic as well, with reports claiming that the Viking-themed SRPG infringed upon the way the word “Saga” is a known extension of many of King’s popular gaming brands.

As you might expect, this story about King attacking The Banner Saga quickly spread like a wildfire across the gaming world, forcing King’s PR department to make yet another statement to try and clear up all of the negative press about them. Spoiler alert: people are still disgusted. The latest statement reads:

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“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.

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17 great Twitter reactions to King's trademark craziness

Jan 22, 2014

If there’s one word that’s on the tip of everybody’s tongues this week, it’s CANDY. King trademarked the word in the EU and is trying to do the same in the US, and the internet has exploded as a result.

If you’ve ever wanted to see what an exploded internet looks like, you need look no further than Twitter. The community has been quite vocal about King’s trademarking actions this week – many even going so far as to add CANDY to their Twitter name in protest – and the @#$%storm hasn’t died down yet.

It’s been only two days since King’s maneuvers first came to light (and one day since we learned about their opposition to The Banner Saga’s trademark). Here’s the best of what the internet has had to say about it:

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King is opposing Stoic's trademark for The Banner Saga

Jan 21, 2014

Remember when you learned that King has a trademark on the word CANDY? It probably won’t surprise you to learn that this isn’t the only one-word trademark they want to hold. They've also applied for the trademark on the word SAGA, and they’re not afraid to defend what they see as rightfully theirs.

USGamer’s Mike Williams has just brought to light a legal opposition filed on behalf of King in regards to The Banner Saga – a recent release and Kickstarter success that we’re delighted to call an early contender for Game of the Year.  

You can find the complete Notice of Opposition at the United States Patent and Trademark Office website, but the gist of it is this: Stoic, the makers of The Banner Saga, filed to trademark their game’s name on January 10, 2013. After the mark was filed “published for opposition,” King formally opposed. The argument King makes is that Stoic’s use of the term SAGA will be enough to confuse customers into thinking the product isn’t from Stoic, but from King. Furthermore, they claim that such confusion could result in damage to King.

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Make a game to fight trademark trolling in Candy Jam

Jan 21, 2014

If there’s one word I’d use to describe independent game developers, it’s… well, independent. They don’t like being told what they can’t do. So what a big company like King comes along and trademarks a word like ‘candy,’ indie game devs get understandably grumpy.

In response to King’s actions (which Gamezebo broke the news about on Monday), Cariboo (developer of the upcoming Berserkgangr) and uuav (check out their Ludum Dare entries here) have just launched Candy Jam, a game jam that tasks developers with making a game that involves candies. Why? “Because trademarking common names is ridiculous and it gives us an occasion to make another gamejam :D,” or so says the Jam’s Tumblr account.

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Interested developers must submit their games before the February 3 deadline. The only rules are that it has to have candy, and that you should consider using the word ‘candy’ several times. Bonus points for other trademark problem words like ‘scroll,’ ‘memory,’ ‘saga,’ and ‘apple.’

Also, there’s always a high five from me if you get the word ‘Gamezebo’ or ‘jimmycanuck’ in there somewhere. ;)

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