Don’t blame King, blame trademark law

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Recently, Candy Crush Saga developer King,.com has been in the news for its aggressive protection of its its trademark. Many, including us, have seen this as bullying – but there’s really much more to it than that. They’re not on some sort of crazy power trip, where they believe they own the sole rights to us use the words “Candy” or “Saga.“ Mostly, they’re just trying to protect themselves from future copycats.

US IP and trademark  Law is a strange thing, based mostly around precedent. The big issue here, and why King’s lawyers have been so busy lately, is that if King.com hasn’t been seen to be enforcing their trademark, they could end up effectively losing it. It’s very much the same thing that happened with Bethesda and Mojang’s Scrolls. Bethesda’s lawyers had to be seen to be making noise about a potential violation of their trademark.

It’s all rather silly, and King has released a statement about it all, so that people people stop vilifying them.

"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. "

The unfortunate reality of it is that if King.com wasn’t posturing as they are now, they’d lose the right to stop people from cloning their games, or develop games with eerily similar names; and we’d have appstores filled with rubbish like Sweet Stomping Saga, Marshmallow Mashing Saga or Honey Hammering Saga or god just kill me now.

If you want to be angry at King, be angry at them for making crap, albeit addictive games that litter your Facebook feed with endless invites and requests.

Last Updated: January 23, 2014

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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