We reported yesterday that King Studios, makers of one of the most popular mobile games/portable currency siphoning application, Candy Crush Saga, had successfully filed a federal trademark for the word 'candy'.
The overt patent trolling by the studio was met with near universal scorn. Deservedly in part for the absurdity in attempting to trademark the very commonly used word 'candy', but also for King's full court legal press in coming down on indie developers that use the word candy in the titles of their much smaller games.
King attempted to reassure the gaming industry that the trademark is in place in order to protect their brand from being confused with imitators. They insisted the trademark decision woudn't be used as a cudgel to go after simply any game with the word 'candy' in the title.
"We have trademarked the word 'CANDY' in the EU, as our IP is constantly being infringed and we have to enforce our rights and to protect our players from confusion. We don't enforce against all uses of CANDY - some are legitimate and of course, we would not ask App developers who use the term legitimately to stop doing so."
This morning, newly obtained documents show that King is now attempting to go after Stoic Studios, makers of the beautiful, tactical RPG, Banner Saga, because of Stoic's use of the word 'saga' in the title. The saga in Banner Saga refers to the literal banners that were carried into battle and are common mainstays of Norse mythology.
Ignoring the fact that Banner Saga has about as much in common with candy themed mobile apps as a cooling turd does with my mouthwash, King has turned their legal team against Stoic all the same. While King.com's trademark on the word 'saga' has been filed, it has yet to actually clear. The decision is a preemptive one, and presupposes that it will eventually be upheld.
Unknown to most, King.com does have a whole stable full of non-candy themed titles aimed at the casual gamer. Title like Bubble Witch Saga, Pyramid Saga, and Puzzle Saga all function in much the same way as the portable mouth-breather detector, Candy Crush Saga.
They are also freemium titles that you don't so much 'play' as sort of absently paw at the greasy screen of your mobile device while occasionally forking over ¢.99.
King's attempt to leverage Stoic into litigation comes from their claims that,
“Applicant’s THE BANNER SAGA mark is confusingly and deceptively similar to Opposer’s previously used SAGA Marks.”
Deceptively similar? They used a remarkably common word that King had no ownership of to begin with. Also, gamers are nothing if not savvy about where they spend their dollars. Nobody is going to confuse a tactical, turn based RPG about Frost Giants and Odin that looks like this:
With a fucking game that looks like this:
Other than being a direct ripoff of classic 'cannon shooter' titles like Bust a Move, Bubble Witch Saga looks like something I'd accidentally play between rounds of Erotic Photo Hunt.
Again, fuck to the nope.
King has no 'prior claim' to the word 'saga' any more than they do to the word 'candy'. Unfortunately, trademark laws in this country are such that companies that are able to, can assert their claims of trademark over incredibly commons words. Stoic ran an impressive Kickstarter campaign, and the Banner Saga has recently been released in full on Steam. What they don't have are legions of players dumping millions of dollars into their corporate accounts on the daily.
They're a small team and if King manages to drag this out into full blown litigation, they'll never be able to afford the lengthy legal dispute. You know what you can do?
You can also head over to The Candy Jam, a site where game developers are cheekily turning out games with candy as the central theme.
The fact that King is acting like the corporate equivalent to a prolapsed rectum deserves to be shared. Boycott their games and tell your friends to quit playing Candy Crush. It's garbage like this that makes trademark laws in this country a joke.