Stealing ‘Candy’ From Babies: King Embrace The Aristocracy

By John Walker on January 21st, 2014 at 12:00 pm.

While the joys of Candy Crush Saga have only reached the PC in the form of a Facebook app, the implications of one of the worst decisions by the US trademark office affect developers on all platforms. They have, as of last week, decided it’s perfectly reasonable for owners King to trademark the word “candy”. And they’re trying to get “saga” too.

So it is that Gamezebo reports developers are now receiving threats that they must remove their apps or games if they have had the temerity to use this oh-so rare word in their product name. It’s the “edge” fiasco all over again, except this time with actual legal muscle behind it.

Trademark bridge-dwelling is disappointingly not uncommon. And it’s born of a genuine legal need that’s worked into the way trademarks work. You have to defend your trademark, or you lose control over it. Just ask Aspirin. Or escalators. Or heroin. However, this matter becomes idiotically twisted when it comes to a company trademarking a word already in common use.

Candy Crush Saga is, obviously, a phenomenon. Despite being fucking Bejeweled, King’s moment of genius was creating a generic match-3 game, but then making it difficult to play. Not difficult. Difficult to play. Employing the worst of the “freemium” model, the game is designed to make you want to fork out continuously as you tap at it, attempting to restrict your ability to play it unless the cash keeps flowing, or players willingly turn themselves into advertisers and begin pimping the game via social media. This leads to two groups of players: Those who empty their wallets into it and fill their timelines with requests for whatever nonsense the game needs. And those who smugly boast about how they haven’t spent a penny but continue to play, as if this makes them some sort of folk hero, when they could just be playing any other match-3 game. Or Puzzle Quest if they had any sense.

So King, in their very, very temporary position at the top of this most precarious of trees (apparently the global decision is to learn nothing from the folly and hubris of Zynga), sensibly need to protect their trademark. Their trademark is “Candy Crush Saga”. At a push, it’s “Candy Crush”. You can see why they don’t want some fly-by-night naughty releasing “Candy Crush Twist” and profiting from their reputation. Right, fine, that’s how the marketplace works. But “Candy”? No. That’s not reasonable in any conceivable way.

Unless you’re the US Trademark Office, who on the 15th January decided it was perfectly sensible to allow the word to be trademarked in relation to gaming, educational services and, er, clothing. The rationale being, there is enough of a connection between King’s product and the word “candy” that the two are immediately associated. Which is patently (geddit?) ridiculous. Sure, at the very, very temporary height of this game’s blip of popularity, you can imagine people would name it if asked for a game with “Candy” in the title. But long-term? It’s theirs long-term?

Tell that to Charlie Knight, creator of 2006′s Bullet Candy. Maybe 2001′s Tiny Toon Adventures: Dizzy’s Candy Quest? Maybe any of the other thousand or so. Or how about… how about Candyz.

Candyz, released in 2007, is a… what’s this? A match-3 game in which you match different coloured candies into rows to make them disappear. What a novel idea!

And it’s already affecting developers, who are receiving instructions to remove their apps from various places, for having the SHEER GALL to use the word “candy” in their title. Benjamin Hsu, creator of All Candy Casino Slots, has been told to remove his app. When he challenged this, Gamezebo reports that King’s sharks responded,

“Your use of CANDY SLOTS in your app icon uses our CANDY trade mark exactly, for identical goods, which amounts to trade mark infringement and is likely to lead to consumer confusion and damage to our brand. The addition of only the descriptive term “SLOTS” does nothing to lessen the likelihood of confusion.”

And their actions will be successful. Hsu tells Gamezebo that he’ll have to change the name, since he can’t afford to defend himself legally.

Why, it’s like Candy Crush Saga’s twin!

King responded to GI.biz directly about the Hsu case, in which they state that his slot machine game is “infringing our and other developer’s IP”, and that “its icon in the App store just says ‘Candy Slots’, focussing heavily on our trademark.” Let’s compare those icons, Candy Slots on the left, Candy Crush Saga on the right:

Well it’s just uncanny, isn’t it?

Bearing all this in mind, King’s claim over the word “candy” in relation to gaming is unrealistic, and the US Trademark Office’s willingness to allow them demonstrates what a quisling body it is. The trademark they’ve allowed goes far beyond all computer games ever, as well. It includes every imaginable item of clothing, and every computer peripheral. It even extends to “Camcorders; Cameras; Cassette players; Compact disc players” and “Headphones”. Which should come as a pretty major shock to established international headphone manufacturers, Skullcandy. Founded in 2003, their name is heavily and immediately associated with headphones, indeed gaming headphones, in which they specialise. Will they too be receiving a call from King’s excited lawyers?

When it comes to clothing, that’s going to be something of a blow to Candy Clothing, and indeed, um, Candy Clothing. (These two might have something of a more realistic dispute on their hands.) Or Candy Plum, or Matalan’s Candy Couture, or Sugar Candy, and on and on and on. The point being, the idea that they have any claim over the word is utterly beyond all sense.

I would imagine that King are intending some sort of world-conquering Angry Birds-style plan, with Candy Crush Saga bath mats, vacuum cleaner bags and inner tubes, hence their attempt at ubiquity over the word so far out of the context of their own crappy game. They aren’t going to get it, since the game is first, not suitable for children, and second, lacking in iconic characters. Oh, and their game will be forgotten by 2015.

Things become even more insane with their attempt to trademark “saga” too. It’s currently “suspended” according to Trademarkia. King filed to trademark it in November 2011, but it currently seems to be in limbo. Rumours spread by George Broussard suggest that Stoic have been contacted by King’s lawyers regarding The Banner Saga, but we’ve no confirmation if this is true just yet.

Trying to kill off any other game with “candy” in the name won’t give them any advantages. Their game is already an astonishing success, generating frightening money. They do not need to crush indies who happened to use an incredibly common word in the title of their game, but will justify it with with the bollocks of “protecting their trademark”, as if there were some rational belief that the word “candy” was theirs to protect. And honestly, King are not doing anything unusual here. They’re a massive company dealing in vast sums of money, and as such are part of a system that draws such companies in to these practices. They didn’t trademark “candy” because they passionately believe it’s their identity, they did it simply because someone told them they can. A team of lawyers will have told them it’s possible, and so they did it. Now another team of lawyers is sending out threatening letters to small indie developers telling them to abandon their work (and potentially livelihoods), because they can. That’s what it comes down to. They can.

The thing is, they could choose not to do it. They could be a company that recognises the massive fluke of their success, is honest about the ridiculous nature of their having gotten rich off a game concept already released by a thousand others, and chooses to behave ethically in their own industry. They could sensibly recognise that they have no rights to a common word, and that even if unscrupulous copycats were to put “candy” in their title to try to piggyback on their success, it wouldn’t meaningfully dent their profits. They can and should trademark “Candy Crush”, and then do their best to make this a name as hideously ubiquitous as “Angry Birds”, because that’s their business. But when they cross the line of needlessly hurting the businesses of others, using their fortunes to behave in an unfair or cruel way, they become something terrible. They could have chosen otherwise.

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146 Comments »

Top comments

  1. Werthead says:

    I propose we develop a game called EDGE OF THE CANDY SPACE MARINE SCROLLS immediately, just to see what happens.

  1. rustybroomhandle says:

    Iggy Pop -> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6bLOjmY–TA

    EDIT: Just noted another Iggy Pop title punned in another RPS post.

    • Cung1947 says:

      my best friend’s step-mother makes $74 an hour on the computer . She has been unemployed for 10 months but last month her check was $13881 just working on the computer for a few hours. go to website……
      http://www.Jobs84.com

  2. NotInventedHere says:

    Somewhat disappointed this is not about a Troll Hunter game.

  3. Sandepande says:

    Oh, those fuckers.

  4. Godwhacker says:

    30 days to challenge it apparently- Kickstarter campaign, anyone?

    • Premium User Badge

      SuddenSight says:

      I’d give money to it.

    • The Random One says:

      But Kickstarter only gives the money after the campaign is over, and they don’t allow campaigns shorter than 30 days, so if you had 30 days to do something by the time you learned about it it’d be too late.

      If only we had paid more attention to IndieGoGo! I told you, you fools! Now we’re doomed! DOOOOOOOOOOOMED!

      Also I don’t think you need legal council to challenge a trademark, just deliver proof of why it’s invalid. However, I’m not sure, so I’d need legal council to know whether I need legal council. Therefore: DOOOOOOOOOOOMED.

      • Author X says:

        That’s not true, this project for example is only 7 days long. However, there is also a 14-day waiting period before the money is released.

  5. Premium User Badge

    RedViv says:

    I petition to turn the site into Rock Candy ShotCandy for the week!
    Or at least replace ‘dangerous & wrong’.

    €: You mad geniuses. Even I did not dare suggest this far!

  6. Premium User Badge

    Arvind says:

    I guess we should feel happy Microsoft didn’t trademark “Box” and Sony didn’t trademark “Station”, all our trains would be illegal!

    Down with this sort of thing.

    • pepperfez says:

      Woe betide us all when Microsoft claims “X” and all pornography disappears from the world.

    • Premium User Badge

      Smashbox says:

      Candy Box would be doubly fucked in that case.

      Down with these crappy trolls and their crappy software.

  7. Prolar Bear says:

    I hope something horrible happens to them.

    • Premium User Badge

      MajorManiac says:

      How about a kickstarter to trademark the word ‘King’

      • rustybroomhandle says:

        There’s a game studio called King Art, so perhaps they can engage in mortal kombat.

      • Prolar Bear says:

        That’s a good start, I would also suggest every game dev to rename their games into “Candy” and see what happens.
        In the meanwhile, props to the RPS team for the new website name.

      • Premium User Badge

        DeVadder says:

        I just applied for a franchise partnership through their contact form. Allways wanted to have my own burger joint. We are discussing Burger King here, right? It is so hard to tell with all this common english wors in names and stuff.

  8. Premium User Badge

    Anthile says:

    Sweet Jesus, this is why we can’t have nice things.

    • The Random One says:

      Careful there with the word “sweet”, that’s pretty much an edge case. Oh no, I just said “edge”! Now Tim’s ghost rises from its legal dungeon!

  9. Blackcompany says:

    As an American, I find my nation’s handling of such things as trademarks and patents embarrassing and shameful.

    Actually, now I think of it…I find most actions taken by our so-called Leadership – on both sides of the fence – utterly embarrassing.

    • Solidstate89 says:

      Seriously, don’t even get me started on the sheer incompetence of the PTO. They’d let a company patent water if they think they could get away with it. The sheer amount of patent trolling and trademark abuse that occurs in this country is sickening. Look no further than those shitbags that are suing companies for having the sheer GALL to use the print-to-email functionality of the network copiers they purchased.

      • SillyWizard says:

        What’s especially fun is that this is exactly the kind of shit that the trademarks & patent office was designed to avoid.

        Also see: FDA vs Antineoplastons.

        (Essentially a doctor has cured cancer and because his cure is not owned by a massive pharmaceuticals corporation, he’s being persecuted to oblivion. See documentary: Berzynski for an extremely biased but still very compelling introduction to the case.)

        • Chirez says:

          Ok, I can’t let that pass.
          I very rarely log in to comment on RPS, mainly because it tends to involve me resetting the password, but dangerous health information? No.

          Burzynski has not in any way cured cancer. In order to believe that, you have to assume that every other doctor in the world has a vested interest in the suffering and dying of cancer patients. There’s no other explanation for why he is the only one using his supposed ‘cure’.

          What he does is pump vulnerable people full of essentially random cocktails of chemotherapy drugs, ignoring all those he kills and claiming any apparent recoveries as miraculous cures. This is absolutely not the place for this discussion, and I wish I didn’t need to make this comment, but that man is a fraud of the worst kind.

  10. Abendlaender says:

    So, I guess no more Candy Box games?
    Jesus H Candy this stupid….

  11. bateleur says:

    But wait – surely the lesson from the folly and hubris of Zynga is that if you grow rapidly and then hit IPO it doesn’t matter how badly things go after that, because KA-CHING!

    Speculation in the second half of last year was that King were heading for IPO. And when I say “speculation” – according to Reuters they’ve already filed for one in the US. Confidentially. Maybe they have learned something from Zynga after all?

  12. Deadly Sinner says:

    I am not a lawyer, but I am not sure that Skullcandy would be affected, since it is one word.

    • Humanji says:

      It doesn’t matter if King have a right to the name. Once they’ve trademarked it, they’ve got a case and enough money to ensure the case continues on indefinitely. Any opponents won’t have the same amount of cash tot heir names and will be forced out of courts. Sadly, that’d the way the system was designed.

    • jkz says:

      Can’t wait to start my Candycrush game.

      • Tallim says:

        Nooo now I fear for my Dick Van Dyke in a hurry game! Can Dyke Rush…

  13. Skull says:

    At least developers from the UK won’t be affected by this turn of events!

    • Premium User Badge

      Gap Gen says:

      Serious question: can you be sued if you’re a UK developer and sell games on your site that someone in the US buys?

      • Premium User Badge

        psepho says:

        Tricky question: generally you are risking infringement if your game is marketed to players in that country, even if your site is not based there.

        However, there are borderline cases where you can argue that it is not reasonably expected for people in that country to discover or buy your game. Different countries also vary a bit.

      • Premium User Badge

        bills6693 says:

        I believe so yes. I believe US patent/trademark law says that if the product is for sale or contact with people in the US, then US trademark law applies to it. Cannot reference that though

        What would be interesting is if another company filed the name Candy in another country where the same clause applies – i.e. you can’t use that word if its being sold or for sale to those in your country – and then sued King for Candy Crush because its being sold to people in their country and they can’t do that!

        • Hmm-Hmm. says:

          So how’d that even be possible to enforce? Especially if the law the other company is based in says nu-uh.

          I say they should start a kickstarter campaign to bankroll the legal defence for these folks. Cause King.com needs to go down (cause.. well, this is just abuse of flawed trademark laws, that’s why).

          • Premium User Badge

            bills6693 says:

            In terms of the US enforcing it? Well, I think that they can sue them and stop them trading in the US.

            If the company from abroad refuses to pay the fine/settlement, I think the US makes it so that company cannot trade with any US companies, effectively embargoing the company in/with regards to the US. Again, no sources here so take as you will, this is just my incomplete knowledge.

      • machopineapple says:

        For years the band Suede were called The London Suede in the US due to a copyright claim by a US band. Likewise, The Charlatans UK. So it’s possible companies might have to market their games under different names here in the US.

        • Sharlie Shaplin says:

          It happens vice versa too. Star Wars Rebellion was called Star Wars Supremacy in the UK, supposedly to avoid the UK publisher/developer Rebellion. They later sued Stardock over Sins of a Solar Empire Rebellion. Maybe they have some kind of grudge against 4x games.

    • Artfunkel says:

      Unless they are selling their game via a US company like Valve, Apple, Microsoft, or SCEA.

      • Skull says:

        I was actually referring to the fact UK developers shouldn’t be using the word candy in the first place…they are called sweets! Although the French word bon-bon is quite a nice word to use to describe sugary snacks.

        Also, hopefully this discourages people all over the world not to use the word candy and back to the original English “sweets” as that is good and proper. I roll my eyes and stick my tongue out at Europeans trying to speak “English” but using words like candy or side-walk or elevator. Ignore the American media, it is wrong! And you might get sued!

        So I am going to be the only person on this site who supports these developers and their secret plan to make Americans speak properly.

        • Premium User Badge

          SuddenSight says:

          “Candy” means crystallized sugar – and according to my local online Etymology Dictionary has done so since the 1300s.

          Since the 1530s it has also meant to coat something in sugar (to candy something). That should cover 90% of candies and sweets.

          Meanwhile sweet has referred to the taste of candies/sweets since the 1300s as well. But it wasn’t used as a noun until the 1700s.

          Learn your English, Brits.

          • Humanji says:

            And gay originally meant prostitute. Meanings change as time passes.

          • Premium User Badge

            Gap Gen says:

            Get with the times, colony-peoples.

          • Beebop says:

            Mmmmm, chocolate bars are neither made of crystallised sugar nor coated in sugar yet are still referred to by your people as “candies”. I’d say the vast majority of “candies” still fall outside of your two dictionary definitions.

          • benkc says:

            I don’t believe I’ve ever heard chocolate referred to [in specific] as candy. They are in the candy aisle (but so are pretzels etc), and Halloween candy can include chocolates, but chocolate (in the absence of other candy) is never referred to as candy in my experience.

        • iainl says:

          Any time RPS get bored of the site’s new name, I heartily endorse Bon Bon Bon Bon Bon Bon Gun as an alternative.

    • Premium User Badge

      c-Row says:

      I wouldn’t be too sure about that…

      http://www.ipo.gov.uk/tmcase/Results/4/EU011538147?legacySearch=False

      Already registered in June 2013. How did that go unnoticed?

      • jonfitt says:

        Whoa! That’s worth a mention in the original post I think.

      • Mags says:

        Good grief!

        From the same site:
        “Trade marks are not registrable if they: – are not distinctive”

        Surely a cursory search on numerous gaming stores would have demonstrated that as a trademark “candy” fails this point hard?

  14. Premium User Badge

    Feste says:

    This doesn’t bode well for my game ‘Edge of the Candy Scrolls’. It’s a fishing game where you must catch 3 identical fish on your line before you can blast them with your shotgun.

    I have no doubt that it will make me richer than notch.

  15. SanguineAngel says:

    May I suggest that people reference their concerns over this issue to the US Patent & Trademark Office themselves: http://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/contact_trademarks.jsp

    • Squirly says:

      I was going to ask, who do I pee on for rubber-stamping this bullshit?

  16. Malfeas says:

    How is this not obviously insane and reason for every person with a mostly functional brain to laugh at and not take seriously?
    …I just don’t understand how anyone can go along with something so utterly idiotic. No matter what it says in the rulebook of a society, there has always got to be room for common sense.

    • Malfeas says:

      I finally got it. The us legal system is the troll of the legal system. Now everything makes sense. They’ve got to be doing it on purpose…. right?

    • Premium User Badge

      basilisk says:

      Money overrules common sense every single time.

    • Entitled says:

      Two words: Intellectual Property.

      The rhetorical illusion that government-granted market monopolies of trademarks, patents, and or copyrights are “securing” some sort of objectively pre-existing ownership of goods, rather than creating it, therefore unless they have ABSOLUTE control over every fragment of imitation, reference, or copying, they are being taken away from their true owners.

      Youtube LPers “taking away” their games from publishers, Samssung taking away Apple’s coolness with their rounded rectangle, Candy Slots taking away “potential profits” from King.

      The short-sighted perception of these three rights as self-evidently virtous and deserved rights of “keeping your stuff”, contrasted with everyone else’s “entitlement” of wanting to “take away your stuff” through derivative references, “for free”.

      Letting them shift the dialogue from “How do you justify limiting the free market and the public’s freedom of expression with such regulations? How much of these monopolies do you NEED it for your most basic business model?” to “Why do you feel entitled to communicate for free? How do you justify taking away other people’s property through your texting, through your artistic expression, through your product creation?”

      • iainl says:

        Or maybe King should just reflect on the good fortune that nobody owns a patent on drop-three.

        • Entitled says:

          Hence why they were registering a trademark instead of a patent. The latter can only gained by creating something new, while the former can be gained by common association with a pre-existing word.

          • MadTinkerer says:

            I sometimes wish Popcap had indeed patented it so that we’d have one Bejeweled franchise and none of these idiotic pretenders. But then it’d be in the hands of EA now… :(

            Edit: and also no Puzzle Quest which is the one match-3 I consider to have put in enough effort to be considered not-a-ripoff.

          • BlueTemplar says:

            Popcap couldn’t patent it because there’s prior art : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shariki

      • MellowKrogoth says:

        Well said. What’s sad is that the way of thinking you’re denouncing is now commonplace. Most people don’t question it unless they’re confronted to some of its worst effects.

      • Malfeas says:

        But!… I mean…
        Yeah.

        I get how they do it. But I don’t get how they are able to do it and be fine with it. It’s just utterly incomprehensible to my own way of thinking.

        I’m just glad I be at a place like this and be surrounded by people that share my irritation.

        (Oh, and well written, btw)

  17. Premium User Badge

    basilisk says:

    Honestly, while this is utterly idiotic, I’m more worried by the growing social acceptance of gambling and exploitative mechanisms in games. It’s hard to phrase this without sounding like the worst kind of “think of the children!” scaremonger, but the issue is real and quietly growing.

    But that’s part of it, I suppose. These things make tons of money, and money doesn’t care about ethics or sanity. Just about making more money.

    • Koozer says:

      When did gambling machines start to appear, in relation to arcade machines?

      • Premium User Badge

        basilisk says:

        More than half a century earlier, but I don’t really see how that’s relevant?

  18. Ein0r says:

    This is pathetic. But i cant decide who is worse: The company or the government body :/
    Help me channeling my anger into the right direction, my pitchforks and torches are already sharpened and prepared.

    • thecommoncold says:

      Why not both? It’s not hard to find them in the same place, they’re always in bed together.

    • Premium User Badge

      bills6693 says:

      Well its ‘Murica so the company is doing what all responsible, freedom-loving companies are supposed to do – make as much money as humanly/inhumanly possible, with that being the top priority and all other considerations being secondary, to pay their shareholders/owners.

      Meanwhile the government is supposed to regulate these companies and make sure that their insatiable hunger for more money doesn’t adversely affect the people of the USA too much, while also protecting the right of the company to make as much money as it can.

      So really the company is acting within its socially, society-approved role of monstrous money vacuum, while the government is failing to protect others by actually enabling and allowing this patent trolling. Thus you could say its the government’s fault, the company is doing only what you can expect.

      Its like saying do you blame the dog for shitting on the floor, or the owner for locking the dog inside? The owner had some power to let the dog out. The dog can’t help it and did what was easily predictable. You can be exasperated at the dog but its not really its fault…

  19. SanguineAngel says:

    To me, these cases often seem to me like the company in question is taking advantage of the USPTO’s lack of experience in their industry. You would expect an entity such as the USPTO to bend over backwards to make sure they understand the implications of their decisions in full before giving the go ahead – they certainly take enough time to do so. But ultimately, I guess it’s just a judgement call and if they don’t know any better they will fuck up just like this

    • TheMightyEthan says:

      The USPTO doesn’t have the resources to actually review all the applications they get with any kind of critical mind, so they end up granting the vast majority of them and letting the courts deal with the challenges later.

  20. Premium User Badge

    sonofsanta says:

    For clarification, trademark law does not actually require you to viciously defend your trademark at every turn or risk losing it, as pointed out by the EFF regarding Ubuntu-related stuff last year.

    Which means that this isn’t stupidity motivated by stupid law, but purely by greed and bastardry. This does not improve the situation.

    • thecommoncold says:

      Not motivated by stupid law, but certainly enabled by it.

      King being greedy bastards is a problem, but you can’t legislate away greed. You can, however, take away their legal beatstick so that their self-serving, trolling ways harm as few people as possible.

  21. Werthead says:

    I propose we develop a game called EDGE OF THE CANDY SPACE MARINE SCROLLS immediately, just to see what happens.

  22. czerro says:

    This is ludicrous, but I don’t believe it can be upheld. Despite King’s threatening letters, this would be thrown out as frivolous by any court. There would be no attorney fee’s required. Defendent would simply issue a letter that would likely read largely as this article. Point out the ludicrousness of such a patent, the bad faith in engaging such a patent, the impossibility of enforcing such a patent, copious examples of pre-existing instances of such usage and gameplay preceding patent, and finally the indefinably broad nature of the patent and the word in question. This happens all the time with troll patents.

    • Mags says:

      I feel compelled to point out that this is a trademark, not a patent.

  23. BlackAlpha says:

    Looking at how dodgy this whole thing seems, I bet there was a lot of money involved in acquiring this trademark.

    Now we all have to watch out when using the word Candy because if we use it in a negative way and say things that happen to be untrue, we might get sued.

  24. Themadcow says:

    If anyone cares passionately about it then the usual guerilla warfare tactic for such things is to either 1-star their app on the official download sites (Play store etc.) or start giving them grief on their facebook page https://www.facebook.com/CandyCrushSaga

    Obviously it would need a reasonable sized movement of hatred to make them sit up and take notice though…

  25. Tei says:

    The USA legal system seems designed to make money, not to do justice.

    • pepperfez says:

      Concentrate money, not make it. Arbitrarily stifling new works has never been a boon to economic development.

  26. Jac says:

    My immediate thought was skullcandy as well. Not sure why it shouldn’t apply to them as well as I’m sure if I called my game / item of clothing / anything candysaga it would befoul them.

    Also ridiculous that games made years before can be bullyed by this. They should surely be exempt or used as an example of why this whole thing is a nonsense.

    Edit: can anyone think of a game that has candy or saga in it from one of the big publisbers?? Hopefully a battle will commence.

    • Premium User Badge

      Gap Gen says:

      I think trademarks often only apply in given contexts, so in this case games – Skullcandy make headphones, which is a different thing (so you won’t easily confuse their products with Candy Crush, which is where trademark is supposed to protect you).

      • Jac says:

        Yeah I thought that too but the article mentions gaming, education and wearable clothing being covered and mentions that as their name is skullcandy rather than “skull candy” they would be clear of any possible trouble.

  27. Wulfram says:

    All Candy Casino Slots – Jewels Craze Connect: Big Blast Mania Land

    I’m not really sure this guy is naming his game in good faith.

    • TechnicalBen says:

      No, he is not. But getting hits through search engines due to similar words in a game title is not illegal. Else all books/games with “star” and “wars” would be illegal. The question is, is “Star Trek: Time Wars” infringing a trademark. The answer no.

      So it’s rotten what he is doing for extra advertising and prominence, but in no way does it seem to confuse users. He just gets a big shelf space to sell his different product.

  28. jph_iteration says:

    Excellent article, thanks!

    Also; http://about.king.com/about/contact

    I already sent my thoughts to King, including the fact that their “game” is pathetic, dated, and just a poor clone/ripoff of other peoples work. Let them know how you think it only takes a second.

  29. Hillbert says:

    Whilst this is heavy handed and needlessly litigious, I can’t wholeheartedly blame them here.

    https://play.google.com/store/search?q=candy&c=apps&hl=en_GB

    It could certainly be handled a lot better though.

    • Premium User Badge

      Gap Gen says:

      Yes, there’s a difference between suing the maker of Candy Box and protecting their name from near-identical clones.

    • Premium User Badge

      Lambchops says:

      My thoughts exactly.

      Highly successful casual games companies have as much right to try and clamp down on clones as plucky indie devs (and indeed are probably in a far better position to do so).

      Shame that isn’t exactly what they’ve done (they’ve missed the chance to earn some grudging goodwill) rather than be a bit over the top and silly about things.

  30. frightlever says:

    There seems to be some confusion here. I see a lot of examples of games or companies with “Candy” in their name but AFAIK few of them have actually applied for a trademark, have they? The reason Tim Langdell lost his trademark was because he massaged history and a dim view was taken – it wasn’t because it wasn’t a valid trademark, it’s just that he actually had to have something TO trademark and he wasn’t able to demonstrate that to the judge.

    eg “Skullcandy” has a trademark that’s about a decade old. No-one else can use that without violating their IP, and King can’t touch them just because “Candy” is in their name. That’s WHY you register a trademark to protect your intellectual property.

    Bear in mind Apple pretty much own “i” when applied before another word, and we seem to be okay with that these days.

    Personally I think granting the “Candy” trademark is too broad and I’m sure it’ll be challenged. If they already had a portfolio of “Candy” games then maybe they’d have a point, but I don’t think that’s the case.

    This isn’t like a patent where someone else having “Candy” in their name somehow invalidates the trademark – the trademark was simply waiting to be plucked and King stepped in.

    • Lanfranc says:

      I wonder if King won’t reconsider their approach once all the other pre-existing “Candy”es out there start to sue them for declarative judgements of non-infringement.

    • Premium User Badge

      molamolacolacake says:

      Usually you trademark the name you are using, so “Candy Crush” or “Candy Crush Saga” makes complete sense. Candy does not because it is so commom and an important piece of many other trademarked titles. That’s actually why you aren’t supposed to be able to trademark simple words unless they are being used in a unique context, like Amazon for instance. It has to be distinctive. (See 15 USC sec. 1052) Apparently the PTO thought “candy” was distinctive to Candy Crush, so go figure. I’m actually more surprised at how broad a trademark they gave them than anything else. For just games, maybe you could argue it was distinctive or had acquired secondary meaning, but I don’t see how they could possibly argue it for clothing, headphones, etc.

  31. NarcoSleepy says:

    Anyone else disappointed that this had nothing to do with Troll Hunter?

  32. Premium User Badge

    molamolacolacake says:

    IP is not my area of legal practice, but from what I do know of it, I would be shocked if they got to keep this. Someone will inevitably take up their challenge and I don’t see a court upholding this. Of course, I remain surprised the PTO approved it in the first place, so I guess there is that to consider.

  33. knowitall011 says:

    whoever approved of this at the trademark office needs to be shot.

  34. Premium User Badge

    psepho says:

    Yet another example of aggressive enforcement bringing my profession into disrepute. Disappointing.

    One point to note: it is generally difficult to enforce a trade mark against people who were making significant use of similar trade marks before the trade mark owner. So Skullcandy etc are not likely be at much risk.

    Granting a trade mark registration for ‘Candy’ is not in itself unreasonable — if I wanted to make game called Candy, I would expect to be able to file a trade mark so that I could stop someone else making Candy 2: Bob-Bon’s Revenge. However, trying to bully a bunch if pre-existing users is pretty gross.

  35. Premium User Badge

    Revisor says:

    FYI, this is not purely US bullshit. The EU trademark office approved the word trademark “Candy” for King.com as well:
    https://www.tmdn.org/tmview/bookmark?ST13=EM500000011538147

    Btw. someone else has registered “Candy crush” for clothing and games.
    https://www.tmdn.org/tmview/bookmark?ST13=EM500000011106713

    Don’t know what the people in the offices are smoking.

  36. caribouloche says:

    We’re hosting a Candy Jam for anyone willing to make a game about candies, scrolls, apples or sagas http://candycandycandycandyjam.tumblr.com/

  37. Premium User Badge

    DantronLesotho says:

    The application will certainly be challenged. Someone mentioned that it was already challenged once already, so it’s just a matter of time. Regardless, I started a petition on change.org JUST IN CASE; sign it and pass it along please:

    https://www.change.org/petitions/us-patent-and-trademark-office-do-not-allow-king-to-trademark-the-words-candy-or-saga

  38. soopytwist says:

    I’m going to make a game called “Bon Bon Blast Chronicle” but it’ll be deliberately crap.

  39. Premium User Badge

    draglikepull says:

    Raph Koster is also saying that Stoic received a cease and desist letter for The Banner Saga, though it’s unclear if he’s just repeating the claim linked in the story above or if he’s got his own info:

    http://gamasutra.com/view/news/208943/Candy_Crush_maker_King_is_a_step_closer_to_trademarking_the_word_Candy.php#comment228597

    • Eight Rooks says:

      It seems Koster might be right?

      http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?t=755651

      I understand why people try to defend games like this – it isn’t good to hate stuff solely because it’s popular, who are you to say what people can or cannot enjoy etc., etc. – but I seriously, seriously do not believe anyone working for King has done a single god damned thing particularly deserving of praise, and that it’s arguably wrong to do so given the way they do business (oh, I can separate the art from the artist, but not so much when the art espouses the artist’s horrid beliefs). And now this. Jesus.

  40. StartRunning says:

    This is wholly in line with my Christmas wish that corporations should make more money. Good going world!

  41. Berzee says:

    All I can think about when reading this article (aside from the standard “GOODNESS ME” sort of thing) is “King Candy” from Wreck-It Ralph.

    • Universal Quitter says:

      Exactly. They’d never have the balls to try this shit with Disney. There’s just no way. The fact that they probably won’t defend it against “real” companies could be what undoes the whole thing.

      Every concerned indie developer could be bugging companies that have products which could be affected by this decision, so the legal heavy lifting is done for them. Mars corporation can’t license a game with the word “candy” in it? Disney can’t crank out a cheap “Candy Rush” racing game for mobile devices, to tie in with the previously mentioned movie?

      Unrealistic, at best.

  42. lautalocos says:

    candy crush saga? real man play logo quiz

  43. DanMan says:

    Can’t the others just call their stuff “Kandee” or something? Or does phonetic similarity count, too?

  44. Danbanan says:

    Skullcandy actually has a pair of headsetts that are named “Crusher” skullCANDY CRUSHer.

  45. Kentauroi says:

    So does Candy Land will be sued for copyright infringement? I don’t think I can go on living without witnessing the majesty of the gumdrop mountains ever again…

    • Berzee says:

      On the plus side, that’d be the end of Gramma Nutt (against whom I hold a grudge for several ruinous appearances near the end of games, during my Candy Land days).

  46. Branthog says:

    People who play Candy Crush are dumber than people who buy Beats by Dre.

    • TechnicalBen says:

      That is so correct I think it could get a scientific paper written on it.

  47. Premium User Badge

    ffordesoon says:

    So King.com can sue Bow Wow Wow now?

  48. iucounu says:

    Just popping in to say I’m bringing out a risque endless runner with a soundtrack of classical Indian music, so please look out for RANDY RUSH RAGA.

  49. Premium User Badge

    jrodman says:

    The correct response for this sort of nonsense is for the various aggreieved parties to file a joint suit requesting declaratory judgement that this trademark is not valid, or whatever amounts to that in trademark law.

    Among the lot of them, they can surely afford it.