The Candy Crush Banner Saga Saga: Stoic Speaks Up

This afternoon King – owners of Candy Crush Saga and an ever-increasing percentage of the dictionary – issued a statement defending their actions regarding the news that they had filed an opposition to Stoic’s attempts to trademark “The Banner Saga”. A defence that seems odd in the face of what’s actually happening. Especially as they’re arguably attempting to assert a trademark they don’t actually have. Appearing to believe they are the only company allowed to register games with “saga” in the title, King has exercised this by preventing other studios’ efforts to protect their unique game names with their own trademarks.

Yet in King’s statement (below), they make it clear that they don’t believe that Stoic is trying to profit from a similar name, and say they do not wish to prevent Stoic from using the name. A claim that seems, well, rather peculiar given the circumstances, and their appearing to say something quite different in their Opposition. It’s something Stoic have now told RPS they’re not too pleased about either, stating, “We won’t make a Viking saga without the word Saga, and we don’t appreciate anyone telling us we can’t.”

There’s a lot of misinformation and trumpeted claims being bandied around about the need to “defend trademarks”. It’s certainly true that if a company does not make an appropriate effort to assert their ownership of a product name, it can eventually be considered to have entered the public domain. However, this arguably does not directly translate to stamping on every small studio whose game name bares a passing resemblance to your own. And it certainly doesn’t mean attempting to assert rights to a single word for which the trademark has not been granted.

King have certainly attempted to trademark “saga”. But they haven’t succeeded in doing so. The mark is currently in the status “SUSPENDED”. You can look through the history of their attempts to claim ownership of the word since 29th November 2011, here. There’s a whole bundle of legalese in there, but the short of it is, they don’t have it. They do have marks for specific game titles like Candy Crush Saga, Bubble Witch Saga, etc, and with repeated use of “saga” in their trademarks, they appear to be arguing that other games using the word “saga” are therefore confused with their own. Although presumably this doesn’t include the 2008 game SAGA by BlueOrb Studios, or all twelve games in Square Enix’s ongoing SaGa universe, Westwood’s 1988 RPG Mars Saga, the ongoing wonderful Hoshi Saga games by Nekogames, Atlus’s Metal Saga or Divinity II: The Dragon Knight Saga, Namco’s Sigma Star Saga or Culdcept Saga, December’s Vita release Sorcery Saga, LucasArt’s LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga, Sony’s 2012 God Of War Saga collection, and on and on and on for hundreds of games, many falling into the time period claimed by King.

And yet, as we reported this morning, Stoic’s application to trademark their game, “The Banner Saga”, has been blocked by King. And at length. King’s response to press enquiries as to why was as follows:

“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. This is an important issue for King because we already have a series of games where “Saga” is key to the brand which our players associate with a King game; Candy Crush Saga, Bubble Witch Saga, Pet Rescue Saga, Farm Heroes Saga and so on. All of these titles have already faced substantive trademark and copyright issues with clones.”

Here’s the thing, though. When you look at the Notice of Opposition (pdf) from King to Stoic’s filing for their trademark, it really doesn’t seem to match up to these words. It states,

“Applicant’s THE BANNER SAGA mark is confusingly and deceptively similar to Opposer’s previously used SAGA Marks.”

Claiming the naming of Stoic’s game is “deceptive” is really quite another thing from their statement. And Stoic themselves aren’t buying it either. In a statement given to us this evening, they say,

“Two years ago, the three of us at Stoic set out to make an epic viking game: The Banner Saga. We did, and people loved it, so we’re making another one. We won’t make a viking saga without the word Saga, and we don’t appreciate anyone telling us we can’t. claims they’re not attempting to prevent us from using The Banner Saga, and yet their legal opposition to our trademark filing remains. We’re humbled by the outpouring of support and honored to have others stand with us for the right to their own Saga. We just want to make great games.”

And it’s important to note that King’s intervention on The Banner Saga isn’t a one-off recent thing. They’ve been drawing this out, in efforts to prevent Stoic registering their game’s name. A name they applied for, say Stoic, before King attempted their own registration of “saga” alone.

“We currently have a trademark filed for “The Banner Saga”, which we submitted before filed for the word “Saga”. They’ve blocked our trademark and extended the deadline for the opposition twice so that we are unable to have the rights to the name.”

So what are the consequences of this for Stoic? Where does it leave them?

King’s public response is “King hasn’t and isn’t trying to stop Banner Saga from using its name. We don’t have any concerns that Banner Saga is trying build on our brand or our content and so we’re not asking them to change their name. Rather, we have asked them not to trademark it as their IP.”

Essentially, we are not allowed to own the name “The Banner Saga” for our game about a viking epic, because claims rights to the noun “Saga”, which means “a viking epic”, which they would retain forever more in the realm of games.

Here’s the thing: the tragedy is, who’s right or wrong is entirely irrelevant, because this will only ever come down to money. Stoic haven’t told us what they plan to do next, but my guess is it’s not going to be to make a legal challenge. Why? Because it would cost a fortune, and they’re a tiny independent studio that wants to be able to continue making games. King have a portfolio of games that makes literally millions of dollars every day. If Stoic lawyered up, King could (and I stress “could” – we’ve no evidence that they would) bleed them dry of every last cent before anything got anywhere, and it wouldn’t be a blip in King’s accounts.

Bearing this in mind, I contacted King to ask them for some more specifics over their earlier statement. I asked about the seeming contradiction between their statement, and the wording of their Notice Of Opposition, and how they believed preventing Stoic from registering the game’s name wasn’t their stopping Stoic from using the name. (By preventing Stoic’s ability to trademark “The Banner Saga”, King are of course preventing Stoic from having any of the rights and abilities to protect themselves against clones and tricksters attempting to ride their own successes, leaving them exposed to the very issues King believes are so dangerous.) I also asked whether King recognised that their wealth and scale made it essentially impossible for small, independent studios to defend themselves against their actions, and finished by asking whether anyone at King has considered whether these actions are actually necessary? Since copyright can potentially protect them against the cloning they so frequently cite, while trademarks obviously can’t do anything about that at all, do they really need to so aggressively assert their marks, whether owned or imagined, against small indies?

King’s reply? They sent me the statement I was asking questions about, and quoting from.

When I mentioned that this didn’t move us any farther on, I was told,

“This is the official response on this issue. Thank you.”

I’ve asked for an interview with someone at King, based on a desire to put these questions to a person, and have been told that they’ll “see what we can do”. I genuinely hope they do, as I think it would be worthwhile to hear from their management in a frank exchange.

In the meantime, those are the statements from both sides of this Goliath Vs David dispute. A sad story, all round. Stoic can continue to call their game “The Banner Saga”, and for the moment King are saying they won’t pursue it further. They could of course change their minds. But it means Stoic can’t own the trademark for “The Banner Saga”, and as such are prevented from being able to protect their own unique brand. You can let King know how you feel about this situation here.


  1. melnificent says:

    7th Saga, from 1993 on the SNES springs to mind too.

    • druez says:

      Being in a marketing group at a company that has product development, I understand what King is doing. Just so you know, for them to keep the rights to the name Saga, they have to notify anyone that uses it in the same industry. They do not have to pursue them after initial notification, but they need that notification on record. If they do not another company that does a copy cat game and attempts to use the Saga name, will have a much easier time of getting away with it. This is due to King essentially giving a tacit approval of Stoic using the name. The next company could come along and say, they never enforced it before, so it becomes harder for them to enforce it.

      That is just how it works.

      • Chaz says:

        But King don’t have the rights to the name Saga.

        • Vardas says:

          What King need right now is Anonymous. A nice DDoS for a week or so may get them humble enough

      • asret says:

        No they’re not. Your marketing group has been getting bad advice or are a bunch of weasels finding cowardly justifications for their actions.

        The owner of a mark is not required to constantly monitor every nook and cranny of the entire nation and to fire both barrels of his shotgun instantly upon spotting a possible infringer.

        The EFF has a nice clear piece on the topic.

      • Syphus says:

        Being in a marketing group does not make you an IP Lawyer…and if your legal folk are saying that, well I think that’s already been addressed.

  2. Lemming says:

    King are totally in the wrong, but Stoic could save themselves a headache and use a zillion other words that mean exactly the same thing as saga: Legend, Epic, Chronicle(s)…

    • TheDreamlord says:

      And if/when they get sued by another one of them companies that have a product out that contains that word, what then? The whole thing is a farce and it won’t change until the trademark/patent laws change.

      • Korvus Redmane says:

        Plus, as Stoic say

        “Saga”, which means “a viking epic”

        the word has an appropriate association, it refers to Viking tales, which The Banner Saga sort of is.

        And in the time to took to post Aerothorn beat me to it.

    • Premium User Badge

      Aerothorn says:

      None of those words mean “exactly the same thing.” Sometimes they are more-or-less-the-same synonyms, but not in this context, since it does not mean “saga” in the generic, English sense but in the Icelandic sense.

    • Nimdok says:

      Oh fuck you. “Oh, just change the name and there won’t be any problems. Roll over and take it, that’s the best solution.”

      • Lemming says:

        Hey, fuck you for wanting an indie company to go under fighting a battle they can’t win because you think principles can feed their children.

        As predicted, yours and most other replies to my comment are in the same vein of armchair banner waving instead of thinking it as an actual problem that would affect people’s actual lives. I’m on Stoic’s side more than any of you, as far as I’m concerned.

        • mike2R says:

          Oh come off it, however small they are they aren’t going to lose this one (unless they roll over and take it of course). Not only that, they’ve invested in marketing their game under the current name, and are getting a boatload more of free advertising due to this situation. They’d have to be nuts to change the game’s name at this point.

          • Lemming says:

            As someone further down has pointed out, King don’t have to win, they just have to drag it out. They can afford a lengthy legal battle. Stoic can’t. I’d rather the game and the company survive regardless of the game’s title. If someone has been kind enough to set up a charitable fund for Stoic’s upcoming legal battles, please point the way. If there isn’t one, perhaps we should stop and think about what’s best for Stoic, rather than pretending we’re all in Braveheart.

        • silentdan says:

          I’m disinclined to view anyone who tells me to concede defeat as “on my side.” I have a feeling Stoic might feel the same way.

        • estacado125 says:

          why is everything these days armchair..i don’t really agree with anyone but i wanted to point out an overused noun become adjective you soapbox naysayer.

        • Nixitur says:

          Heh, banner waving…

    • Bull0 says:

      King could also use any other fucking word though, since Saga doesn’t actually mean anything in their games. Is it a saga? Is doing the same thing for a long time a saga? No, it’s just doing it for ages. Candy Crush For Fucking Ages and Ages. It’s more accurate. King, you can have that on me. Now stop being pricks, thanks.

      • boyspud says:

        I really want them to call it Candy Crush for Fucking Ages and Ages now.

    • The Random One says:

      The problem is that

      1) The game is already out, and has already garnered a lot of goodwill from word of mouth. They’d risk losing a good deal of that if they changed their name, since it’s not like a lot of people are reading game news to discover that a small indie game they heard about a year ago is no longer named that. Plus, they’d have to redo logos, buy new URLs, etc.
      2) The word Saga was a very deliberate choice, because it means specifically a Viking epic. That would be like saying that you can’t name your collection of poetry with fourteen verses in iambic pentameter “Sonnets”. It would of course be trivial to name it just “Poetry” or “Verses” instead, but “Sonnets” is much better in getting your idea across.

      €: So many good posts preceded mine. But my metaphor is still the best. Come at me, bro.

      • anarcorata says:

        That comment was so nerdy that I doubt anyone can refute it. Well done!

      • estacado125 says:

        meh sonnet is so overused and not everyone enjoyed their English classes in school in which they were forced to read sonnets instead why not call the book ballad, limerick, poesy, maybe even song or my opinion these just sound better and in fact two of them are words people can relate to more. now it dont seem so much the best ehh? its creativity.

    • FriendlyFire says:

      Zynga owns a game called Castleville Legends, there’s Epic Games and then you have Chronicles of Riddick and a bunch more games with similar words. You could always technically step on toes if you consider “The Banner Saga” to be anywhere near “Candy Crush Saga”.

      They marketed the game as this, they got all the attention for that title, they can’t just change it outright post-release. That’s nonsensical. Plus, Saga was chosen for its specific meaning as a Viking epic, whereas the dickheads at King only use it for the more general meaning. THEY should be the ones switching over to a different term.

    • jrodman says:

      If King gets to the point of actually threatening legal action directly on this point, that would definitely be the right thing for them to do. The right thing for the industry to do is to put King in their place on the more general issue.

    • bhauck says:

      This is how we’re going to end up with six or so giant companies claiming a “Legend” or “Epic” or “Chronicle” or “Saga” each and little guys having to come up with names that jump through more and more hoops, until a company with some cash buys the rights to the word “Hoops” and then the word “Cash” and then “Words” then “and” “then”

    • Dunbine says:

      Perhaps its time for someone to trademark the word “King”.

      British monarchy, I’m looking at you. Or Burger King, either way.

    • Drake Sigar says:

      Sorry you’re using words in your post that I own. Well, ok I don’t actually own any of the words, I’m just bigger than you and if I say I own something, that’s just as good. We’re like prisoner inmates! *Cuddles*

  3. Tatty says:

    We must fight this, if only for the sake of holidays for the over 50s.

    • SomeDuder says:

      I like to think it was our massive spamming of Riccardo’s mailaccount that was posted in the previous piece’s comment section that made them react. Still, it wasn’t a very good reaction, so clearly we must continue. Subscribing any mailaddress of King’s to beastiality porn newsletters, chain-ads, the work (Yea I know this shit gets blocked by their own mailservers, who cares, it’s the principle – they throw shit around, then I can too).

    • meepmeep says:

      We must fight this, if only because of the guy’s face on the contact page.

      Look at it. Really look at it. Someone chose that combination of hairstyle and moustache. A real human being.

  4. Afkilla says:

    King’s actions are disgusting. They can take their Terrible Game Saga and shove it. Why don’t the original Tetris or Bejewelled devs go after King? FucKing.

  5. pixelrevision says:

    Yeesh. Just saw this this morning too link to Brutal.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      That’s fucked up, but not surprising in the least.

      • Optimaximal says:

        No, that specific issue is not surprising, because the ‘other guy’ is doing wrong on so many levels.

        The application in question explicitly refers to numerous other popular brands in its title, using them to game his way up the iTunes ranking. Apple prohibit this and are in their right to take it down.

        The pertinent questions are a) why did Apple reference the Candy Crush link in the takedown and b) why did Apple approve the application against their guidelines in the first place?

        • Julio Biason says:

          Sadly, Apple is just doing whatever they can to protect themselves. The same happens if someone tries to post a “Pokémon” game in their store: The word is protected under copyright laws and, thus, must be removed. Since there were apps already available (instead of simply blocking apps with a trademarked word), they have to show that as the (legal) reason they need to take the app down.

          So it’s not much of “enforcing”, it is just that they are just following the law and trying to get out of the way — they are the distributor and could be sued for trademark infringment for distributing trademarked products; so instead of taking the blow and wasting money in lawyers trying to point that the real culprit is the app author and not them, they simply remove the app.

          (Not saying that Apple is “Oh So Nice” or something around those lines, just trying to point that any company with 2 brain cells would actually do the same.)

          • jrodman says:

            You can’t copyright single words. Copyright came to exist following the printing press and was about putting controls on when people are allowed to create duplications of the text of a work. From there the concept has been generalized to other mediums. The *title* of the work was never what copyright was for, and various legal attempts to use copyright for this purpose have failed explicitly.

            However, Pokemon is surely trademarked, and being a made-up word, it’s very hard to imagine that someone using that word in the title of a product is not in fact trying to cash in on that mark.

    • KevinLew says:

      I notice that people want to talk about this “candy” story more than the “saga” story, despite that the latter is far more interesting and invasive. If you read the article, a person made a silly slot machine game and he named it “All Candy Casino Slots – Jewel Craze Connect: Big Blast Mania Land.”

      If you read the complaint in detail, it’s saying that the game uses a ton of meaningless words borrowed from other game titles to make sure that people would find it by accident when searching for another game. To me, that *is* a valid example of somebody infringing on a trademark. It would be like me making a generic match-3 game and calling it “The Halo Call of the Battlefield Destiny and Duty” and then I insist that my name is original and I wasn’t naming my game to trick the Google search engine.

  6. Bull0 says:

    I see this series of events developing into something of a saga all of its’ own. And then the universe will implode

    • Nixitur says:

      Well, there’s a reason that the tag for this story is “saga saga“.

  7. AP Erebus says:

    It is corporate scumbaggery of the highest order.

    I sincerely hope that King realises how much of a flash in the pan their business model is. Zynga says hello!

    As Cliff Bleszinski said on twitter…

    “By this logic Epic should have trademarked the word “War.””

    • Horg says:

      This really is the great tragedy of the whole story. In a year or two Candy Crush will be a dead brand. As it stands its already a derivative game, being cloned by opportunists who want to get in on the gold rush. In a years time, the mobile crowd will be onto the next cow clicker or bejeweled knock off, leaving Candy Crush as a faint memory. Basically, by the time the Candy Crush IP is ruled in the public domain, it will be a worthless IP. Hounding poor Stoic is logically, legally and financially pointless.

      • dogoncrook says:

        It’s not all bad though, stoic will very likely shrug this off once they see the massive jump in sales and get to laugh all the way to the bank. I just bought it and I don’t really know what it is, but I figure this would help them far more than donating to a legal fund if one pops up and I get a game out of it. From the comments I’ve seen around the web (Fuck! I’m old!) many others are doing this as well.

        The irony is there is now far more press illuminating the distinction than advertisments or reviews of the game. I don’t see any reasonable person being confused any longer (I was going to say they never could have but steam I’ve seen your forums!). If it does make it to court I would love a blow by blow, I imagine it will be fairly amusing.

        So there it is Indies, drop saga somewhere in your title and get sued to success, and help king go under by making the term so generic no game maker can ever trademark it again.

    • thegooseking says:

      He’s wrong, though.

      By this logic Epic should have been sued by George Lucas over the word ‘War’.

  8. Kein says:

    Absolutely disgusting.

  9. Mirdini says:

    Just going to link this article from the EFF again (iirc someone else linked it in the previous article) to note that saying “It’s certainly true that if a company does not make an appropriate effort to assert their ownership of a product name, it can eventually be considered to have entered the public domain.” is a complete non-issue in cases like these and can in no way be used as justification for King’s actions. Yes, abandonment can eventually cause a trademark to lapse – but that’s after years of total non-use, and not stomping on infringement does not lead to a company losing its trademark.

    • LionsPhil says:

      It’s an excellent excuse, though, because lots of people heard it down the pub that it’s so.

      Great, concise article.

      • Universal Quitter says:

        Almost everything can be explained by “some assholes went along with it because it sounded vaguely familiar.”

    • Horg says:

      Keeps the lawyers in work though, which I suspect is the real motivator behind this spurious claim. They make some bank on this even if it never sees a judge.

  10. Jenks says:

    Completely ignorant question here

    Why would this cost a fortune to fight? Do courts really require the OJ defense team? Couldn’t a ‘cheap’ lawyer with a little knowledge of trademark law walk in there and explain that trademarking the word saga is retarded?

    I know my first mistake is trying to apply common sense to US law, but I can’t help it.

    • John Walker says:

      The issue, I think, is protraction. If King decided to draw it out for a long time, they could spend all of Stoic’s money that way, and Stoic would have no idea if that might happen at the start.

      • Graves says:

        John is right, that’s a big part of the issue. The problem isn’t necessarily rates, here, but time. Knowing that they have the advantage of much deeper pockets, King’s team could potentially mire any ‘cheap’ lawyer Stoic could hire in motion after motion, and rack up discovery costs. Now, I’m not a expert in trademark, but I do know litigation strategies, and the reality is a plaintiff like this can do a lot to drive up costs- its actaully something we cover in law school (Though, we do it from an economic perspective- that is, how does it affect the incentives and game theory of settlement, not “how to drive up costs and be a dick”. I go to an economics heavy school).

        The other part of it is that trademark law is a specific discipline that most lawyers know nothing about, and attorneys in the US are ethically precluded from taking cases that they are not capable of doing. While a “cheap” attorney could spend the time to educate himself, he or she would be ethically precluded from charging those hours to Stoic, which lessens any incentive that any lawyer would have to take the case (Because he would have to comp so many hours and thus make less money per hour). Hiring a dedicated trademark attorney is not cheap, because expertise comes at a price.

        That said, as a (soon to be) relatively young and inexperienced attorney looking to make a name and get experience, I would be willing to take this case pro bono. Of course, circumstances prevent me from doing so- It will be months until I pass the bar, and I am not a trademark attorney. But even taking my offer would mean risk for stoic. I don’t know trademark law, but sometimes in IP issues its better to not defend something than to defend it and lose. If King doesn’t have the Saga mark, all they are really doing is blocking Stoics Banner Saga mark. Each party ends up where they started. But, by intervening, they may end up with a judgement that solidifies Kings control over the mark, giving them the power to stop Stoic from using the Saga name. That result would be worse than doing nothing, and by taking an inexperienced, cheap attorney, you are more likely to lose against King’s experienced team.

        So, there are a number of issues here, none of which are easy to resolve. Personally, I would contribute to a crowd-funding campaign for Stoic’s defense, and others might be willing to as well. I’ve got an IP law professor who might be able to give a better assessment of whats going on to see if that type of program would be advisable, and send it along to Stoic.

        *Be advised- the preceding paragraphs should not constitute legal advice in any form. I am a law student, and have not passed the bar, and am therefore not a reliable source of legal knowledge.

      • Caiman says:

        Lawyers, the original Pay2Win.

        • toxic avenger says:

          Noooo, no, no, no, no. Money and sociopolitical power, the original way to win

    • HadToLogin says:

      That’s how Bethesda forced Interplay to sell them Fallout Classics and rights to MMO – by suing them, and suing, and suing, then suing their contractors and even more suing of Interplay (and those were really ridiculous cases, like agreement saying “Interplay can sell Fallout” actually means “Interplay can’t sell Fallout digitally”).
      In the end, Interplay had no money, so as final “F-ck you” they gave away Fallout Classics for free on Gog (kinda sad they didn’t done that on Steam too, that would probably piss Bethesda a bit more) and with New Year Bethesda now owns everything Fallout.

  11. Robin says:

    Well I admire John’s determination to stick to his guns.

    Coke don’t own the word “Cola” but they didn’t let anyone else use it without a fight. King have probably filed against any game using the word “Saga” in the title on the same principle.

    What King are trying to defend against isn’t a copyright issue. They’re not looking to stop people making similar games, they’re looking at stopping people passing off games as being connected to them, which is happening on a massive scale on the platforms they inhabit right now. Exactly the same thing happened with Doodle Jump, Angry Birds and Temple Run.

    Obviously The Banner Saga doesn’t fall into that category. But some legal schlub way down the chain isn’t paid to make assessments of artistic intent, they’re paid to fire out nastygrams based on a simple criteria.

    One company being bigger than the other doesn’t affect any of this.

    • The Random One says:

      True, but that’s less like Coke stopping the use of Cola than it’s like Fruit Loopz stopping the use of Fruit.

      • Frankenchokey says:

        Fruit Loopz’s mark holder trying to stop the use of the word “Fruit’ in general, or in regards to entirely unrelated goods or services might seem unreasonable, but if another manufacturer of similar candies tried to market and register a mark for, as an example, “Fruit Circles” such action could have merit.

        I don’t think the issue here is so much whether a company can trademark a particular word as it’s related to their product, but whether the use of the term Saga by Stoic here would cause the kind of confusion/deception that would give rise to infringement.

        Personally, I don’t think there is much likelihood of confusion in this instance, but that’s a question for the court to decide.

      • Burrakooka says:

        The fact that it’s actually Froot Loops may be because of brand protection like this… or possibly because they contain no fruit.

    • bglamb says:

      This isn’t just a nastygram though, it’s an ongoing intent to prevent them from registering their trademark. The management are involved and sticking to their guns. You can’t blame this on some low-level lawyer doing something harmless. It’s neither harmless nor low-level now.

      • Robin says:

        Well, it is pretty harmless as so far there’s not a jot of evidence that King have any intention to block Banner Saga from using the name. The scenario of King bankrupting small devs through protracted legal tangles is exciting and scary but it doesn’t actually make any sense.

        • bglamb says:

          I don’t know why you don’t consider registering the name as a trademark “using the name”. They are preventing them from “using” the name. Not on the game box, but at the trademark office, which is essential if they are going to “use” it as the name of their game.

          • Robin says:

            Erm, no it isn’t.

          • jrodman says:

            Wow, are all your comments this pithy? However, I could offer an improvement. It seems your whole thread could be summarized “nuh-uh.”

  12. aliksy says:

    Can we find the people who approved the trademark for candy and shame them into quitting their job forever?

  13. bglamb says:

    Anyone else getting an error when they try and leave King a message at the link provided? It won’t let me express my views to them! I do hope it’s simply overloaded and not switch off.

    • cpt_freakout says:

      I still think it’s better to leave messages on public ‘spaces’ like Facebook and the like, where, while they can also ignore the messages, other people will notice, get informed, and perhaps join in the fun. The personal contact format on their webpage is, I think, much more easily ignored and passed over.

    • Devan says:

      I sent a message via their site earlier today and didn’t get any error. Perhaps they disabled it intentionally?

  14. Christo4 says:

    John, ty for being awesome and informing us

  15. racccoon says:

    No common name or phrase should ever be allowed to become a trademark for abuse.

    link to

  16. Terribleperson says:

    Thank you for the contact page, John, but can we all agree to take to Twitter as well, where it has the chance of educating the uninformed rather than simply being deleted? I would suggest cleverness directed to @CandyCrushPrblm with say a #IPtrollsaga hashtag? I am sure you (plural including anyone reading) can do better, but please do it in a public forum.
    Perhaps honey gets you more of what you want, you could tweet a good word to the folks at @StoicStudio and let them know you stand behind them and that King are (pejorative fitting your style here).
    King knows we are angry, now we need other people to know we are angry. Link to this and they’ll know why, and likely be angry too.

  17. dogoncrook says:

    Not to defend them, but their pleading is boilerplate, and if those accusations were absent it would be thrown out. In fact I’m pretty sure this was generated by a popular document drafting program. You are not really illuminating a case of hypocrisy fyi. It’s the standard legal knock just to get your ass in the door.

    • TheMightyEthan says:

      If they filed those documents making those accusations without believing them then the attorneys involved are committing pretty serious ethical violations. At least in the US attorneys are not allowed to make assertions in documents or in court without a good faith belief that they are true.

      • dogoncrook says:

        They are simply asking to decide the fact. No ethics are being violated here, again it’s SOP. Trust me doing things this way saves everyone a hell of a lot of time which is why their pleading is the way it is, judges prefer this to verbose qualified arguments in pleadings. It’s the way law is practiced and although I see no way for them to win, I also see zero chance of it raisong an eyebrow at the Minnesota bar.

        Edit: lol no idea where Minnesota came from. One of those days..

        • El Mariachi says:

          The word Minnesota comes from the Dakota name for the Minnesota River: Mnisota. The root mni means “water.” Mnisota can be translated as clear water or clouded water depending on pronunciation.

  18. Gotem says:

    You are forgeting:
    SAGA: Rage of vikings (1999)

  19. bar10dr says:

    I just removed all my King games from facebook, I don’t like bullies.

  20. Hypocee says:

    Oh wot timing. Linked three days ago, Aaron Steed: ‘Indies are so stupid for not learning from King LOL’. Well, what they would learn is don’t bother because you need to hit hundreds of megabucks so you can send your legal department around stomping all those bothersome indies.

    • Universal Quitter says:

      If you noticed, he followed that up with a blowhardy “apology” called “In Defense of Me,” because something something minorities? It comes off as weird, defensive, and probably far more dubious than whatever he edited out of the original article.

      Thanks universe, for saddling another egotistical asshole with a surplus of talent. Always a fucking treat when that happens.

    • Philomelle says:

      The funny thing about his arguments is that there’s already a version of Candy Crush Saga that explores its ideas for their own sake, not for the money. It’s called Bejeweled 3.

    • strangeloup says:

      The other thing that you can learn from King is if you copy Bejeweled and add aggressive microtransactions, you can make big $$$ from people with poor impulse control.

  21. Wulfram says:

    Would the sane thing not be for them to trademark the word “Saga” in the context of mobile games – mobile puzzle games? – or something like that?

  22. RProxyOnly says:

    The profit making structure should be made to set up and fund their own “court” system, obviously overseen by real (lol) judges etc, as the courts are now.

    They take too much time and resources away from our courts and cause many delays in areas they shouldn’t be impacting…They want to squabble amongst themselves, fine, but they should be funding something separate.

  23. Frankenchokey says:

    I’m no particular fan of King, its products, or its business model, but I’m a bit concerned with how, most of the arguments and positions we see concerning trademark actions, such as these, seem to come down to popularity contests. We sympathize with and support one side, and direct our anger toward the one we don’t favor. This is understandable, but not particularly useful in resolving the questions these cases raise.

    There are legal questions, and questions of fact, that need to be addressed in these circumstances. Our personal opinions on the relative merits of the companies involved are not particularly relevant to those questions.

    In some ways I think we may ultimately do more harm than good by forming an angry mob and trying to intimidate the unpopular party into dropping its action. By doing so we may simply push aside for another day the questions such an action raise, rather than allowing the legal process to attempt to resolve the issues at hand and perhaps in doing so, set a precedent that could be useful in the other similar situations that will inevitability arise.

    • Horg says:

      If the legal process was left to its own devices, nothing would ever change. If there’s one thing lawyers hate, its change.

      • TheMightyEthan says:

        Out of curiosity, what country are you from? One of the great advantages of the common law system is that even if the existing caselaw is against you you can always argue that it’s outdated or wrong and should be changed, and the judges have the power to actually do it.

        • Horg says:

          Such changes in law usually correspond to changes in society as a whole. Yes, there is occasionally a single case to set precedent, but if a society does not voice concern that a law needs to be changed, it is far less likely to be changed. In this case, i severely doubt that the public keeping quiet and allowing the case against Stoic to run its course would pave the way for change, even if Stoic eventually won. I predict that copyright law will eventually change, but that change will come from a combination of public sentiment and corporate lobbying to influence politicians, not a landmark case.

    • Ich Will says:

      Surely we are collectively saying as a society “This law no longer represents the way we want humanity to progress” and making the effort to speak up like this is why we’re not all serfs.

    • Universal Quitter says:

      Yeah, I’m not sure what comments you were flipping through, but that wasn’t the general tone that I got. No pitchforks, here.

      People can easily engage in group-think, but sometimes a big corporate jerk is just a big corporate jerk.

      • Frankenchokey says:

        My concerns aren’t directed at the comments here specifically, but what I fear as a general trend in these kind of cases. The trend towards directing our ire at the party we dislike, while supporting the one we favor, based not on the actual issues at hand, but based on that favor or disfavor itself.

        The point that I was, perhaps inelegantly, trying to make is that there are important issues in cases like this, that deserve to be examined on their merits, rather than on the relative popularity of the parties involved.

        • Universal Quitter says:

          Nothing you’re saying is wrong, but it’s so broadly true of life, the human condition, and everything around us that I don’t see the particular relevance here.

          Yeah, humans are irrational, emotional creatures. We form arguments and plans based upon biases, and then rationalize it after the fact, usually all in the blink of an eye. Smart, gifted people can be the worst about it because they’re the least likely to admit cognitive flaws.

          This is true in sports, business, and everything, so of course the internet is going to reflect human nature. You can’t expect any better of it. It’s basically just a big fucking mirror for the species.

    • Devan says:

      I think you’re right about the importance of objectivity and such. However, I think it’s important to note that there is no court case going on here and unless I’m mistaken therefore no precedent that may come out of it if it is left alone. This is simply the case of Stoic’s long-standing application to trademark “The Banner Saga” being continuously hindered by King.

      Maybe eventually the trademark office might decide that the opposition doesn’t make sense and allow the application to proceed, but I think that would be overly optimistic considering that would be the same office that granted a trademark like “candy” in the first place.

    • Mhorhe says:

      So basically your solution for this would be to leave them to duke it out between themselves all legally styled?

      The fact on one side of the scales is an ungainly large f2p monster that earns in the millions of dollars daily, and on the other side a 3 men company, makes no nevermind to you?

      Yes, great idea, I think. I’m sure some loose cannon maverick lawyer will jump in and save Stoic, and he won’t even charge them for it.

      No irony involved. :|

  24. cyphercolt says:

    Funny how King is just stealing game ideas from everyone else and then attacking people for using words that are in their game names [papa pear saga = peggle, candy crush is basically pogo games Sweet tooth, pet rescue saga is Collapse with animals.. etc]

  25. Premium User Badge

    keithzg says:

    This is the message I sent through the King contact form:

    Wow. You’re seriously opposing Stoic’s attempt to trademark “The Banner Saga”? Here I was, feeling all this pressure from so many people saying how Candy Crush Saga was eating up their life, thinking “hmm, maybe I should give in and play it.” Phew. Dodged a bullet, there; now I know to never buy any of your games ever. Thanks!

  26. acs328i says:

    I sure hope that all this publicity helps out Stoic. King is raking in millions. I can’t help but stand up for the little guy in such a frivolous lawsuit.

  27. KingCovert says:

    I’m just waiting for my trademark to come through on the word “The”… I feel like I could make some money.

    • Yapma Jones says:

      Exactly. SAGA is about as trademarkeable as THE. The legal term to describe words like this is generic.

      King is full of sh–.

  28. GameQB11 says:

    This is not a frivolous lawsuit.

    The reason given for the lawsuit is what has been going on for ages when companies try to protect a trademark. It has nothing to do with Banner King. Its about preserving the right to sue when a REAL copycat comes along. If they dont sue in a ridiculous case like this, it makes it that much harder to defend their brand when a real copycat comes along and claims that it was never a protected trademark.

    People just LOVE to take out their pitchforks. Sensationalism at its best.

    • KingCovert says:

      You aren’t wrong GameQB, but the larger issue here is that King somehow feels they have the ownership of individual words…. not a phrase or a title but specific words….. I’m sure that a lawyer could probably make the case that what they are doing is in violation of some sort of freedom of speech or expression… its utter nonsense that they think they can lay claim to the usage of a word, I don’t care if its under restricted circumstances such as game titles it is ridiculous…. as my post above jokes, I should then go and trademark “The” or “Of”…. if we deem this to be legal.

    • Frankenchokey says:

      That’s not necessarily the case though, they aren’t claiming absolute ownership of a word, but are claiming the rights to the trademarked use of the word in relation to a specific product or line of products.

      The question then becomes whether the products at issue here are sufficiently similar to cause the confusion/deception that would damage King’s mark.

    • FriendlyFire says:

      The problem is that this justification (which I see as a sort of scattershot approach) is often brought up in circumstances like these but never actually substantiated… Where is it said that you need to pursue each and every potential, remote infringement? This case is such a stretch that it should in no way diminish your position defending your mark.

      Plus, regardless of that: King are trying to trademark the WORD “saga”. That’s patently absurd. It’s not sensationalism. It’s just getting angered by something stupid that we’d rather see changed.

    • pepperfez says:

      Indeed, how can we not understand that sometimes rich companies just have to behave ridiculously and aggressively if they want to maximize profits? We’re such irrational peasants for thinking there might be countervailing interests!

    • Universal Quitter says:

      But it has yet to be determined that not pursuing the case would result in a permanent loss of the entire trademark (they don’t actually own just “saga”).

      People SAY that’s why, but it doesn’t make it true. Be a good little skeptic and start behaving more skeptically.

      Name one example of a company that selectively defended a trademark, only to lose it to pirates and thieves. Seriously. Name ONE. It doesn’t even have to be software, just the entertainment industries.

      • dogoncrook says:

        Band aide, Kleenex, walkman etc.

        • Simes says:

          Falling into general use is entirely different from losing a mark due to failing to enforce it.

          • dogoncrook says:

            Coke isn’t general use because they defend it even though in the US everybody calls everything a coke. There are better examples but is it really be necessary to research to prove that yes you do in fact have to enforce trademarks, and that it’s not some elaborate ruse?

    • Devan says:

      ” If they dont sue in a ridiculous case like this, it makes it that much harder to defend their brand when a real copycat comes along and claims that it was never a protected trademark.
      People just LOVE to take out their pitchforks. Sensationalism at its best.”

      So you agree that this is a ridiculous case and yet call it “sensationalism” that people should be upset about it. Real people are getting screwed here and King’s excuse doesn’t make that okay.

      IF trademark law truly requires such actions then it needs to be changed, and being apathetic is not going to achieve that. Fortunately, it’s not as cut-and-dried as you believe and they can suppress knock-offs without also suppressing unrelated games like The Banner Saga. As another poster linked above:
      link to

      Also, it’s important not to forget that “Saga” and “Candy” are dictionary words and should not be available for trademark. Finally, King hasn’t actually secured the trademark on “Saga” yet they are successfully blocking a previously-filed application for an unrelated game.

      You can be apathetic if you like, but this is a serious and legitimate issue that affects us all and needs to be addressed.

      • Yapma Jones says:

        Why do you say they are successfully blocking the application?

        They filed an opposition that is stupid on its face.

        Trademark attorney will see right through it. And don’t blame King, blame whatever cheesehead is giving them bad advice.

        • Simes says:

          They’ve already extended the opposition twice, and Stoic can’t afford to fight them. Thus they are successfully blocking it. Perhaps you can’t say that it has been successfully blocked, but it’s been working for quite a while so far.

      • GameQB11 says:

        See you still dont understand. NOTHING will come of this lawsuit most likely. Thats not the goal. The goal of the law team is so they can say “we’ve always went after the use of the word saga”

        When a copycat comes along and tries to capitalized of the candy crush saga name, they cant claim King is being biased when they are getting sued.

        Its like if a whole class of kids is calling your mother a cow (using the word “saga”) and you shrug it, but you single one kid out and punch him in the face. They can argue that you hit them only because you dont like that particular person (an unjustified bias). If you go after everyone when they called your mother names- then you can claim you just dont tolerate ANYONE calling your mother names, thus you show no bias.

        By going after Banner King Saga, they can claim they dont like anyone using “saga” thus saving time when trying to defend their property. Thats all its about. Saving their legal team a bit of headache when it comes to a REAL infringement trial.

    • secuda says:

      common word in dictionary that are free to use by anyone should not be a case in lawsuits, thats just lazy imo as previus article took up. find it hillarus that they only doing this to smaller companies and not the richer ones whom already made their bang for the buck.

  29. Frankenchokey says:

    For clarity, I think it should also be pointed out, in reference to the suspension of King’s own trademark registration mentioned above, that a trademark need not be registered in order to receive protection. Registration carries benefits, but is not required for one to hold a mark.

  30. lorddon says:

    I expressed to King that I wish their business be as long and prosperous as Zynga.

  31. Yapma Jones says:

    99.9% King is going to lose their opposition. No way can they claim rights in the word SAGA, apart from the mark as a whole.

    Somebody should think about setting aside King’s trademark. They have listed several thousand items they claim they are using the Candy Crush Saga logo on. Including anti-sweat underwear and bras. You cannot list these items without a good faith belief that you are going to use them. GF is clearly lacking in the application.

    King’s attorney has no idea what he is doing or he is lying to his clients to make a lot of money by doing voluminous but idiotic work.

    • kalirion says:

      Considering they already successfully claimed rights to the word Candy, as I understand it…

  32. piep says:

    Why do these laws even exist?

    • Yapma Jones says:

      Laws like this do not exist. King is just making it up. Stoic just needs to show some balls, find an attorney they like, and tell King to go f themselves.

      • frightlever says:

        Laws like this exist to prevent people from abusing the trademark process. The problem is that the actual process is not being explained to you.

  33. kalirion says:

    link to

  34. WedgeJAntilles says:

    Does anyone find it slightly ironic that a company whose flagship title is literally a clone of Bejeweled is so incredibly worried about competition from people “cloning” their games?

    • Jackablade says:

      Perhaps Popcap need to be coaxed into taking on King. They have the money to do it and stand to gain plenty for stomping on one of the bigger competitors.

      Would be quite the Godzilla versus King Kong battle.

  35. Muzman says:

    We don’t want to prevent anyone using the word..
    We just want to make sure they have to pay us when they do!

  36. ZechsMerquise73 says:

    Let’s all volunteer to be pro bono lawyer stand-ins to rattle off rhetorical bullcrap at the King lawyers while Stoic’s real lawyers go to work and get the case squared in their favor. How hard could it be to whine and pull out retarded technicalities that have no legal or ethical value?

  37. Lobotomist says:

    I am increasingly less worried about what its going on in this world.
    How long can this go on before a revolution. And a bloody one like in 1917

  38. Pneuma_antilogias says:

    The idea that anyone would “confuse” The Banner Saga, with that inane fodder King keeps churning out is laughable.

  39. alphager says:

    Just a quick correction:

    Since copyright can potentially protect them against the cloning they so frequently cite,[…]

    Copyright only covers the concrete expression/implementation (e.g. the concrete art files, the concrete compiled binary, the concrete source code). A clone that uses his own art files and re-implements the game (as happened to great press coverage with Ridiculous Fishing) does NOT run afoul of copyright. Trademarks only cover the name and/or concrete logo (think Apple and the “bitten apple”-logo; both are covered by trademark law). All clones that I know about don’t use the trademark or the assets covered by copyright of their respective original. It is not illegal to create a game that has the exact same gameplay of “Candy Crush Saga” featuring sweets of all kinds and sell it under the name “Sweets Smash Story”.

    • Ooops says:

      Trademarks can concern other things than just name and logo. You can trademark anything that identifies your brank. For Example, the Cocal Cola company has successfully trademarked the distinctive contour of its glass coke bottles in 1977. The 3D shape of the iconic bottle was successfully trademarked more recently.

      I don’t think anyone has successfully trademarked a game mechanism until now, but my surprise wouldn’t be extreme if the concept is stretched that far one day.

  40. amateurviking says:

    I kind of feel like, because I kickstarted The Banner Saga, that *I’m* being fucked by King. It’s personal now. Fuckers.

  41. tra2002 says:

    What is really sad King is making cloned games and wants to act silly over titles. Even Neopets had a game with the same mechanics as candy crush way before King was even thought of.

  42. Syme says:

    Are King actually going to take them to court if they use the name “Banner saga” though? Or is this just a way of scaring off people making ripoff games? They’re still being dicks, but it seems like this is more of a statement than a declaration of intent.

    • frightlever says:

      I’ll spell it out.

      Stoic are attempting to trademark the term “Banner Saga”. NB TRADEMARK. A trademark is different to a name. Most indie games aren’t trade-marked. Most AAA games are. Banner Saga is presumably up there now.

      King, who have several games with “Saga” in the title are lodging a perfunctory objection to someone, anyone, trademarking a game-related phrase that includes “Saga”. Here’s the thing – King are doing this to protect THEIR IP so that someone, could be Stoic or could be somebody else, some behemoth with lawyer money who could potentially come after future games made by King with “Saga” in the title if they have a prior claim to a trademark with “Saga” in the title.

      Remember Bethesda and Scrolls? Bethesda had a trademark on “Elder Scrolls” and went after Mojang who were trademarking “Scrolls.” Back them Bethesda were the bad guys for trying to protect their IP and Mojang were the plucky little guy.

      Mojang attempt to assert a single common word trademark = saints.

      King attempt to assert a single common word trademark = c*nts.

      And King don’t even have the trademark on “saga” (yet) and may never get it BUT that still doesn’t stop them from objecting to people trying to trademark the term or incorporate the term into a trademark. THAT is what the whole review process is about. It isn’t a fucking witch-hunt, it’s just part of the process.

      This isn’t rocket science.

      • olemars says:

        Slight difference in the Zenimax vs Mojang story is that Zenimax/Bethesda actually demanded that Mojang stopped using the name “Scrolls” for the game, not merely contesting a trademark registration.

      • WedgeJAntilles says:

        At no point did Mojang ever attempt to trademark the word “Scrolls.” They simply named their game that, and Zenimax decided that owning The Elder Scrolls trademark somehow entitled them to owning the word scrolls by itself.

        Come on, get your facts straight. It isn’t rocket science.

        • olemars says:

          That’s not true. Mojang did try to trademark Scrolls, and with very overreaching categories too.

  43. JamesTheNumberless says:

    What upsets me is that nobody ever remembers Puffy’s Saga link to – it even (sort of) had candy in it.

  44. Wang Tang says:

    There is anothere issue that is *again* higlighted in this story, beyond trademark office shenanigans. And it is that, in the 21st century, in so called “civilized” countries, money still buys law (?, non-native speaker).

  45. frightlever says:

    King seek to trademark “Candy” – there is a 30 day review process during which people can lodge their objections. I would expect RPS to be glad that people can object to King trademarking “candy”, and would welcome notifications of objection being filed.

    Stoic seek to trademark “Banner Saga” – there is a 30 day review process during which people can lodge their objections. King have done so.

    That’s all. It’s nothing malevolent. Nothing personal. It’s just business. Both King and Stoic are working with-in the law.

    Honestly, what is the problem? I can’t believe John Walker is misunderstanding the fundamental nature of what’s going on. No-one is being sued, no-one is being asked to stop using the name of their game. It’s a trademark dispute, nothing sinister.

  46. Major Kong says:

    This IP thing is important I believe. Would King oppose EA about a questionable IP for the noun “Saga”?

    They answered to my inquiry:

    “[…] we’re not asking them to change their name. […]Like any company, we do need to take appropriate steps to protect our IP, both now and in the future. In this case, that means preserving our
    ability to protect 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 Saga¹s trade mark application (not
    its name), it would be much easier for real copy cats to argue that their
    use of ‘Saga’ was legitimate.”
    Senior Director of Communications, Global

    My response:
    “What is the difference between asking and opposing something I wonder.

    I also wonder if you would oppose EA if they filed an IP for a game called “The Gisli Saga” , “Bandamanna Saga” or “Egils Saga”. I believe you would not do that, because EA has enough resources to defend itself, unlike an indie developer like Stoic.
    There is no way that you could stop anyone from using and claiming an IP with the noun “Saga” in it in a fair fight. This noun belongs to human cultural heritage and I believe it is unwise of King to follow the path of trampling on small guys just because you can. Some silly system of so called justice may favour the rich and mighty, but there are ways for small things to fight and even kill big things.”

    I made a small mistake with “asking” and “opposing” in my response. Hell, I am not getting paid for this, never will, so what

  47. HadToLogin says:

    Just so you know, facebook has similar stuff happening (don’t know if they were successful with their “book” or “wall” trademarks) and even forced something called “placebook” to be shut down.

    And I think you’d have a really hard time if you’d try to sell some iSTUFF…

  48. Deadeye666 says:

    The biggest problem I have with this whole situation is the fact that King – as was mentioned in the beginning of this article – DOESN`T EVEN OWN THE TRADEMARK. They have tried to trademark the word ‘Saga’ before but so far have failed. So basically they want to enforce a trademark they don´t own. How is that even supposed to work??

    • tyren says:

      Yeah, it’s ridiculous. And I don’t doubt the reason they weren’t allowed the trademark is BECAUSE it’s ridiculously broad. If Rollercoaster Tycoon’s publisher couldn’t trademark the ” Tycoon” title format, I find it very hard to believe “saga” could ever be legitimately trademarked.

  49. Smaug says:

    The dimension of lawyers is different from the dimension of us mere mortals, It is a planescape of twisting paragraphs where laws of gravity and grammar are bent to horrible, unearthly shapes. Even gazing onto the non-Euclidean forms will drive you insane.

  50. Spoon Of Doom says:

    I know it’s unlikely (to say the least), but I would so love it if EA stepped into this and began suing King for ripping off Bejeweled so blatantly (multiple times, as Candy Crush is not their only match 3 game). And/or they could “sponsor” Stoic’s legal battle and make a big show of it.
    EA’s been trying to better their reputation a bit, and this would be a really great PR move with a very promotable story (standing up against the evil big company, defending the valuable and artistic indie scene, blah blah).