King, the company behind the chart-topping mobile game Candy Crush Saga
, wants to make sure its market dominance is secure, in part by seeking to trademark a very common word.
In February last year, King filed the application to trademark the word "Candy" across a broad variety of products, from shower caps to computer games. On January 15 this year, King got a step closer to owning that trademark, as the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office approved it
If you're a developer and have the word "candy" in the name of your mobile app, you may need to change the name of your game (or lawyer up). GameZebo has the full scoop
, and reports that already, game developers who use the word "candy" in their mobile games' names are getting notifications from Apple about the trademark, on behalf of King.
This isn't the first time that trademark disputes have arisen in the mobile space over commonly-used words. The same thing happened with the word "Memory"
back in 2012.
The trademark has been approved, but "for publication." That means there is still a 30-day window for people to oppose the trademark.
From the USPTO: "After the mark is published in the [USPTO weekly publication] 'Official Gazette,' any party who believes it may be damaged by registration of the mark has thirty (30) days from the publication date to file either an opposition to registration or a request to extend the time to oppose."
Back in November 2011, King applied for the trademark to the word "Saga." As of December last year however, the application was suspended on a technicality
; being based outside of the U.S., King is required to submit special paperwork to the USPTO, which it did not file, leading the trademark application suspension.
Gamasutra reached out to King for an explanation of the company's trademark strategy, and received the following response from a King representative:
"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.
However, we are continuing to look into whether developers with games that use the word "Saga" have been notified by King recently.
King is opposing the registration of the trademark The Banner Saga
by Stoic, the game's developer. Blogger Superannuation
has dug up King's Notice of Opposition to Stoic's trademark, which can be read at this link
[pdf] and which states, in part, "use and registration of the term The Banner Saga
by Applicant [Stoic] is likely to cause confusion, mistake, or deception that Applicant's goods are those of Opposer [King], or are otherwise endorsed, sponsored, or approved by Opposer for use with Opposer's goods causing further damage to Opposer." Stoic has declined to comment to Gamasutra regarding this story so far.
When pressed for comment, a King representative gave Gamasutra the following statement regarding the company's opposition to Stoic's attempt to trademark The Banner Saga
"King has not and is not trying to stop The Banner Saga
from using its name. We do not have any concerns that The 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 The Banner Saga
’s trademark 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."