King drops Candy trademark in US

Candy Crush Saga company withdraws application for rights to individual word in hit game's title

King has abandoned its trademark application on the word "candy," the company confirmed today for Kotaku.

Although the trademark was filed for in February of last year, it only became headline news last month when the developer of All Candy Casino Slots - Jewel Craze Connect: Big Blast Mania Land published e-mails from King's legal team alleging trademark infringement. A King spokesperson said at the time the game's overly wordy name and App Store icon (which just said "Candy Slots") were attempts to use other companies' intellectual property to goose its own search rankings.

That was just the beginning of bad press for the company, as King followed that up by opposing indie developer Stoic's attempt to trademark its Banner Saga name because of the "confusingly and deceptively similar" title of the game. Since then, the company has been accused by one indie developer of hiring a programmer explicitly to clone his work, while another claims King won its trademark dispute over his CandySwipe game (which predates Candy Crush Saga) not by arguing legal merits but by acquiring the trademark rights to an even older game, Candy Crusher.

All of this drew criticism from the International Game Developers Association, which publicly accused King of overreaching with its trademarks and engaging in "predatory efforts" to protect them.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office database still lists the King trademark on "Candy" as live, with the company asserting rights to the term in a wide variety of goods and services, from computer software to baby monitors, ear muffs, lotteries, and juke boxes. The USPTO also lists the application as being published for opposition today.

A King representative provided the following statement to GamesIndustry International:

"King has withdrawn its trademark application for Candy in the US, which we applied for in February 2013 before we acquired the early rights to Candy Crusher. Each market that King operates in is different with regard to IP. We feel that having the rights to Candy Crusher is the best option for protecting Candy Crush in the US market. This does not affect our EU trademark for Candy and we continue to take all appropriate steps to protect our IP."

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Latest comments (10)

Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development8 years ago
I know that's just lawyer-speak bullshit, but when did a common word like "Candy" even become part of an "intellectual property". In what way was "Candy" created? How does it need protecting?, it's been in the dictionary for years.

A product name is a trademark. Their product isn't called "Candy". That's it.
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Curt Sampson Sofware Developer 8 years ago
Paul, as the MD of a company, you may want to brush up on the basics of trademark law.

A product name is not always a trademark, and a trademark is not always a product name. Trademarks are often limited to a specific area of use (such as entertainment media) that make them a lot less general than they at first might appear. And it's perfectly reasonable in some circumstances to trademark a single word. Take "007" for example: would you think it reasonable to deny a trademark application that would prevent the owner of the James Bond franchise from taking trademark infringement action against someone who created a game called "007: The Spy Returns"?

(Note that I'm not excusing King here, just pointing out that they're using a mechanism that has its valid uses.)
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Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development8 years ago
"007" is not actually a common use word and I would be fine with eon (or whoever) to go after someone in your example. Even if the offender in question had used the name "James Bond", which is far more "generic". It's just a name - but it clearly identifies a specific product too. Nobody making spy games not featuring JB has a case for using it and doing so would obviously be an attempt to misuse someone elses work - "Bob Smith" is just as good a spy name unless you're trying to get a slice of eon's money.

Where are you on "Candy" though, because I don't see this as very grey at all. Not only does it not identify King's or anyone elses product, it's a word that's used all over the place in and on games prior to King's usage.

An equivalent but better example would be for eon productions to trademark the word "spy"

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Johnson on 26th February 2014 9:08am

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Show all comments (10)
Curt Sampson Sofware Developer 8 years ago
I was simply responding to your implication that one should not be able to trademark a common word. "Apple" has also been in the dictionary for "years."

Trademarks involve not just the words themselves, but context. There are no doubt contexts in which "Candy" could be a perfectly fair and fine trademark.

And there's no point in asking me about the King situation because, as I've already stated that I'm not saying that King is justified in what they're trying to do. I'm just attempting to correct what appear to be misapprehensions in your post about the general concept of trademarks. (And, of course, IANAL, so you should consult a lawyer when you need legal advice on a specific situation.)
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What a clusterfuck of heaving wankery. King buy "Candy Crusher", any trademark of which they surely stamped all over when they released their own Candy Crush Saga, in order to protect Saga against the legal rights of yet another game Saga infringed. I fail to see how this "law" is justice as opposed to what it looks at its face: Insanely rich people using the letter of the law to make a mockery of "equal" protection under it?
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James Berg Games User Researcher 8 years ago
Can someone clarify this point - why could King release a game called Candy Crush Saga, without infringing on the Candy Crusher trademark? It seems bass ackwards to me to seemingly infringe on rights, then buy the wronged party to defend those same rights. Is it just down to enforcement? Blegh.
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Edward Buffery Head of LQA (UK), Testronic8 years ago
Marvellous opening sentence, Barry :)
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Graham Bromley Lead Level Designer, Codemasters8 years ago
I agree James .

Seems odd that you can copy a games name, make a lot of money using your copied name, and then buy the rights to the game name you stole to save yourself from being sued.

Even worse when you consider Candy Crush Saga's Art work bears more than a passing resemblance to Candy Swipe's Art, and that the gameplay is a direct copy of Bejewelled.

Makes me wonder how King haven't been sued out of existence themselves.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Graham Bromley on 26th February 2014 5:39pm

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Curt Sampson Sofware Developer 8 years ago
why could King release a game called Candy Crush Saga, without infringing on the Candy Crusher trademark?...Is it just down to enforcement?
We do not know if King infringed on the Candy Crusher trademark because it was never tested in court, and that's the only place one can get a final decision on whether a particular usage of a term or terms infringes a trademark. In other words, yes, it is often down to enforcement.

What you're seeing here is the nasty side of intellectual property laws: they can be (and often are) used to engage in rent-seeking behaviour. That's why, even as a creative person, you should be looking to try to keep IP laws fairly minimal and liberal, because big businesses will use them against you at every opportunity.
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James Gallagher Marketing Manager, Futuremark Corporation8 years ago
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