Last month, Candy Crush Saga creator King.com angered the entire internet by announcing their intention to trademark the word “candy" (and the word “saga" but that’s another, er, saga). People were outraged that a company would try to own the rights to a common word like candy, and it brought up all sorts of bad memories of the long battle Mobigame fought with patent troll Tim Langdell over their game Edge. But the trademark and patent system itself is something of a mess, and there are countless games that have tried to ride the coattails of Candy Crush Saga‘s success by purposefully using the word “candy" and trying to create consumer confusion. King argued they had a right to defend their IP, and was quick to explain that they wouldn’t go after every instance of “candy" being used in a video game. King’s CEO Riccardo Zacconi even posted an open letter addressing everyone’s concerns about their IP protection practices.
However, CandySwipe ($0.99) developer Albert Ransom has posted his own open letter to King today, and according to his account of what’s transpired between himself and King, any benefit of the doubt the Candy Crush Saga maker had been given in regards to their IP protection philosophy has gone straight out the window. CandySwipe originally launched on Android way back in November of 2010, several months before Candy Crush even appeared on King’s website, and a full two years before Candy Crush Saga would appear on the App Store. Ransom, like any good developer should do, was quick to trademark the word “candyswipe" to protect his creation, and was granted the trademark in July of 2011. So when King tried to trademark “candy crush saga" he opposed it, not simply because of them using the word candy in the title but because the game itself was strikingly similar to his own CandySwipe game which predated any version of Candy Crush. Check out what I mean.
The pieces of candy and even the “Sweet!" in Candy Crush Saga were just too similar to CandySwipe’s to be coincidence, and unfortunately once Candy Crush Saga became a huge sensation people actually were confused by the two titles, most thinking that CandySwipe was just another cheap knockoff of King’s game. Obviously this was tough to deal with for Ransom, as he legitimately was there first, but he kept quiet during the whole “candy" trademark drama last month in hopes that the matter would be settled through the trademark system, though he did tell Gamezebo in January that he’d planned on opposing their “candy" trademark in addition to his current opposition of the “candy crush saga" trademark.
Well, it didn’t end well for Ransom, as King went out and purchased an even earlier trademark for “candy crusher" which according to King covers game software and mobile apps dating back to 2004. Now they are using this earlier “candy crusher" trademark to invalidate Ransom’s trademark on “candyswipe." Basically, this goes against everything King’s CEO explained in that open letter about how they only wish to “protect our IP and to also respect the IP of others." King.com has not commented on this particular matter just yet, but if they do we’ll let you know.