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This Week in China: Candy Crushing the Great Wall

Apr 18, 2014

Back in October I had a chance to visit King’s studio in Stockholm. I was mainly there to check out an upcoming game and absorb the culture, but as is often the case when talking with mobile-minded developers, the conversation eventually moved to Asia: the great white whale of gaming markets. How do you break into it? And how do you get to be #1?

This week King answered that question, at least as far as China is concerned – and based on my chats with the team, the move they’ve made isn’t the least bit surprising (and really, it’s the one any developer looking for success in the Asian market should consider). But what was it? Read on to find out!

As always, thanks to our pals at Laohu.com for providing Gamezebo readers with a roundup of the biggest gaming news to hit China each week.

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CandySwipe and Candy Crush makers settle trademark differences

Apr 16, 2014

Here’s something I bet you weren’t expecting: Albert Ransom’s trademark troubles are officially a thing of the past.

Ransom, whose company Runsome Apps created CandySwipe, has been fighting King’s Candy Crush Saga trademark since long before “candygate” became a buzzword. And when King applied for the US trademark on the word CANDY, Ransom swore he’d fight that too.

King fired a returning shot by purchasing the trademark rights to Candy Crusher, a 2004 game, and using those older rights to try and have Ransom’s mark on CandySwipe revoked.

In a word, things were getting ugly.

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But as of today, that ugliness is a thing of the past. Ransom has informed Gamezebo that he and King have “amicably resolved” their dispute. He has withdrawn his opposition against the Candy Crush Saga mark, and in turn King has withdrawn their counterclaim against CandySwipe. “Both our games can continue to coexist without confusing players,” reads an official statement on candyswipe.com.

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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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