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’,” says Ransom. 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.
“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.”
While Ransom was hesitant to throw around any accusations of cloning – and rightly so, as the style of match-3 isn’t quite the same – he is quick to point out a few places where the games' similarities might be construed as more than mere coincidence. “CandySwipe's original app icon and candy pieces released in 2010 [are similar to Candy Crush Saga]. Even the ‘Sweet!’ is similar.”
So when King chose to file for a trademark on CANDY CRUSH SAGA, Ransom did the one thing that was within his control to do: he opposed it.
The opposition filing on April 9, 2013 isn’t indecipherable for those who'd like to give it a read, but if you'd just prefer the highlights, I believe this section sums it up nicely;
“Applicant’s mark, CANDY CRUSH SAGA, is confusingly similar to Opposer’s mark, CANDYSWIPE. Applicant’s goods and services… are also very similar to Opposer’s goods and services. Both marks, CANDYSWIPE, and CANDY CRUSH SAGA represent similar games with similar layouts and game play where users select and match candy pieces to remove those candy pieces for points (or scoring) within both the Applicant’s, and Opposer’s games.”
And if you’re wondering how consumer confusion can damage your product, you need look no further than point #5 in the opposition:
“Furthermore, consumers are leaving 1 and 2 star ratings along with negative comments within Opposer’s game’s public, "ratings and comments" sections within the said trade channels. Consumers are claiming they were looking for, and expecting Applicant’s game, CANDY CRUSH SAGA, and expressed their disappointement when they realized, Opposer’s game, CANDYSWIPE is not associated with Applicant’s game. As a result, Opposer’s game is potentially being ranked lower within the said trade channels due to the negative feedback generated by this confusion; thus, causing damage to Opposer’s mark.”
According to Ransom, consumer confusion runs rampant
“Runsome Apps has literally hundreds of documented instances of actual confusion backing up their claims,” Ransom told Gamezebo.
The opposition is still pending, which means that King doesn’t have the trademark on CANDY CRUSH SAGA quite yet. And this isn’t the last opposition that Ransom plans to file. When asked if he intends to oppose King’s trademark on the word CANDY, he just had one word for us:
UPDATE - 2/12/2014: King has taken action against CandySwipe's trademark. Learn all about it here.
Editor's Note: We've reached out to King for comment, but have yet to receive a statement. We'll update the article if we do.