King.com has recently been awarded the trademark for the word 'candy' in order to further protect their already vice like grip over the mobile gaming market.
That's right, the word candy. Candy Crush Saga, the mobile equivalent to setting a pile of dollar bills on fire in order to keep warm, has been awarded one of the most ludicrous trademark victories seen in the digital landscape.
According to Gamezebo, King Studios has not only managed to copyright an impressively common member of the English language, they've already unleashed their fleet of legal eagles on any other title in the Apple store with the word 'candy' in it. King has threatened developers with litigation in an attempt to protect King's now federally trademarked property.
Benny Hsu, the maker of All Candy Casino Slots - Jewels Craze Connect: Big Blast Mania Land, told Gamezebo he was being forced to pull his game from the App Store. Hsu, was issued the following stand down on behalf of King.
“Your use of CANDY SLOTS in your app icon uses our CANDY trademark exactly, for identical goods, which amounts to trademark 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."
Start over, I'm pretty confused about what's happening.
Hsu, who obviously doesn't have nearly the resources as the multi-billion dollar a year King.com, is now faced with changing the name of his game because he can't afford to defend himself legally. Hsu's title is only one of many that are currently being targeted by King simply because they contain the word 'candy' in the title.
Look if we had an intellectual property worth billions with a capital 'B', we'd want to protect our brand just the same. What's seven shades of bullshit is the overt bullying by King of smaller developers. This is already on top of the absurd assertion that a company can simply trademark an incredibly commonly used word because they're rich beyond measure and are able to afford the justification in federal court.
King is also attempting to trademark the word 'saga'.
Any developer wishing to make a candy themed game is free to do so, as long as the actual word 'candy' doesn't appear in the title. The irony here is that King took an already existing game genre, the match 3 puzzle, and slapped candy themed bullshit all over it to make their millions. Titles like Bejeweled, and hundreds of clones like it, have been around for years. Biting an existing style didn't seem to be much of a concern for King prior to the addition of eight zeroes at the end of the company's financial prospectus.
Apparently the lessons of Zynga have gone unlearned by King and their very tenuous position at the top of the casual gaming dog-pile remain temporarily unchallenged. Zynga's meteoric rise from casual/social game developer to cultural juggernaut was followed by the company's even more impressive dying star implosion after the company went public too quickly.
While King continues to leverage their wealth and influence against smaller developers in the Apple store, this decisions sets an unsettling precedent. Not only can a company make the claim that their product and a commonly used word share such a strong connection that they are intertwined forever, but a company of King's size is able to to use its war chest to force any perceived competition to either change their name or pull their game entirely.
Watch this space for developments. This yeasty loaf of dick bread isn't done rising yet.
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