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Candy Crush Saga developer trademarks "candy"


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#1 MightyJordan

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Posted 21 January 2014 - 12:29

When you have an intellectual property – especially one that’s worth millions of dollars – you want to protect it. But can such protections ever go too far? That’s the question a lot of industry watchers are asking this morning, as developers far and wide whose games include the word ‘candy’ are getting emails from Apple on behalf of King, the makers of Candy Crush Saga.
 

In a filing with the US trademark office dated February 6, 2013, King.com Limited registered claim to the word ‘candy’ as it pertains to video games and, strangely, clothing. On January 15, 2014 the filing was approved. And now, a mere five days later, reports are coming in from developers that they’re being asked to remove their app (or prove that their game doesn’t infringe upon the trademark).
 
“Lots of devs are frustrated cause it seems so ridiculous” says Benny Hsu, the maker of All Candy Casino Slots – Jewel Craze Connect: Big Blast Mania Land. Benny’s game, which shares no similarities with King’s properties aside from the word ‘candy,’ is one of a number of games that have been targeted by King.

Hsu contacted Sophie Hallstrom, King’s IP paralegal, to discuss the matter further. Rather than the simple “oops, our mistake” that Benny was hoping for, he was given a very finite response. “Your use of CANDY SLOTS in your app icon uses our CANDY trade mark exactly, for identical goods, which amounts to trade mark infringement and is likely to lead to consumer confusion and damage to our brand,” reads Hallstrom’s reply. “The addition of only the descriptive term "SLOTS" does nothing to lessen the likelihood of confusion.” 
 
So how does a word like ‘candy’ get trademarked? According to Martin Schwimmer, a partner at the IP legal firm Leeson Ellis (and the man behind The Trademark Blog), it’s all about how strong a connection the claimant has to that mark when it comes to a particular good or service. Think of Apple, for example. Nobody is going to expect the electronics giant to lay claim over the fruit, but if someone were to try to market an electronic device under that name, you’d better believe their lawyers would swoop in.
 
So the question then, is whether or not there’s a strong enough connection between the word ‘candy’ and video games as it pertains to Candy Crush Saga. According to the US Trademark Office, the answer is a bona fide yes.
 
Still, holding a trademark and being able to enforce it are entirely different things. Schwimmer is quick to point out the difference between suggestive marks and unique ones. “Someone can't plausibly claim that they came up with the term TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES on their own.  An incredibly unique trademark like that is somewhat easy to protect.” But something generic – a dictionary word like candy? That can be a lot trickier.

 

“Suggestive marks are protectable, but the problem is that third parties can claim that they thought up their mark on their own.” And in the case of something as generic as ‘candy,’ it doesn’t seem that farfetched to think that a lot of developers may have.
 
“As to how far King can enforce its rights, it will be a function of how strong its mark has become, and how similar the third party name is.  It would likely be able to enforce its rights against marks that are connotatively, phonetically or visually similar, for games that are conceivably competitive,” Schwimmer tells us. “King can't go after candy companies because candy companies don't use the term CANDY as a trademark – they use it to identify their product.”
 
If you’re a developer who has received one of these letters from King, Schwimmer’s advice is simple: call a lawyer. “A trademark lawyer can be very useful in obtaining a coexistence agreement.  Often a trademark owner will accept a settlement in which the possibility of confusion is mitigated, perhaps because the developer will not expand into areas more directly competitive with the trademark owner.”
 
But in an App Store littered with small indie developers, this is an option that seems out of reach for developers like Benny Hsu. “Myself and other indie developers don't have the money or resources to fight back… I plan on changing the name if that is what I must do.”
 
With Apple seemingly complicit in King’s claims – the letter Tsu initially received came through the iTunes legal department – one can’t help but wonder what the future of the App Store and suggestive trademarks might be.
 
“Last year I learned I couldn't use the word MEMORY because it was trademarked,” said Hsu. “Now I wonder what other common words will be trademarked in the App Store.”
 
 
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#2 compl3x

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Posted 21 January 2014 - 13:30

Isn't there an argument to be made that if you decide to use a common, everyday word then you run the risk of others piggybacking off of your success? Don't want someone to vamp your cred? Don't choose to name your company after a common thing. Don't call your company Flower, genius. Call it Flowerescent! A made up word you can freely patent.

 

Or they could do like that game show where they say the word candy and see how many people responded with "crush"; essentially word association. If enough people do, you get the patent, if they don't you don't. Every few years you have to redo the test, if your thing is no longer associated with the word, you lose your patent  :laugh:  :rofl:



#3 Andrew

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Posted 21 January 2014 - 18:50

The trademark system is broken.

 

Nothing new there.

 

If only Bejeweled had the trademark on match type 3 and crushed them :whistle:



#4 HawkMan

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Posted 21 January 2014 - 19:17

Meh, this is stupid, Candy Crush should be thrown out for not being a game. 

 

a game should allow you to get better and you get better skills, not the case with candy crush, it's all luck and random. a game should ALWAYS be possible to beat. not the case with candy crush, levels aren't pre calculated to always be beatable. 

 

Candy crush isn't a game, it's like going to Vegas and playing one armed bandits, only there's no prices, only you paying them. 



#5 +techbeck

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Posted 21 January 2014 - 19:20

another dumb trademark.  Shouldnt be able to protect common words.



#6 The_Observer

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Posted 21 January 2014 - 19:41

Here in NZ coke came out with a drink call LOL.



#7 Jason Stillion

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Posted 21 January 2014 - 19:48

Meh, this is stupid, Candy Crush should be thrown out for not being a game. 

 

a game should allow you to get better and you get better skills, not the case with candy crush, it's all luck and random. a game should ALWAYS be possible to beat. not the case with candy crush, levels aren't pre calculated to always be beatable. 

 

Candy crush isn't a game, it's like going to Vegas and playing one armed bandits, only there's no prices, only you paying them. 

 

It is a game, but a game designed to frustrate you to do buy microtransactions. 

For what the game is designed to do, it's rather effective at it. 

Think about how much money the game is generating when they have frequent tv commercials for it.



#8 Andrew

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Posted 21 January 2014 - 19:52

It is a game, but a game designed to frustrate you to do buy microtransactions. 

For what the game is designed to do, it's rather effective at it. 

Think about how much money the game is generating when they have frequent tv commercials for it.

 

I've never played CCS myself but a friend has explained it to me previously. Am I right in thinking you have to match 3 in so many moves, and it needs to be done in a particular order or you lose?

 

Bejeweled and other match type 3 games have similar modes and nobody has an issue with them. Only when you throw micro-transations in does it become an issue for people evidentally. That and having to bug people to get more attempts/lives/etc etc through social media. It's viral and for their benefit at the end of the day.



#9 M_Lyons10

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Posted 21 January 2014 - 19:58

That is just absurd.  The PTCO must be run by a bunch of idiots...



#10 ninja502

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Posted 21 January 2014 - 20:10

someone should try and trademark crush ( as used in video games, board & card games, and plastic & stuffed figures )  , that would put a big bite into them on  expanding product lines . you can then send them nasty letters for using your trademark in there game title  



#11 McKay

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Posted 21 January 2014 - 20:16

Can they really go after these games if they've existed longer than Candy Crush? Or before the trademark date?



#12 Bonfire

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Posted 21 January 2014 - 20:28

I think Hasbro might not be amused at their shenanigans

 

vKmkbys.jpg



#13 astropheed

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Posted 21 January 2014 - 20:36

I think Hasbro might not be amused at their shenanigans

 

vKmkbys.jpg

 

Heh, I just thought the exact same thing. When I think of a "Candy" game I immediately think of Candy Land. Although, when I think of Candy Crush I think of Facebook (and the people I've deleted on it for inviting me to play Candy Crush, to be fair I give them two stern warnings).



#14 ninja502

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Posted 21 January 2014 - 20:36

pogo had sweet tooth along time and also popcap games had a clone of some kind

 

pogo is owned by EA and they wont roll over very easily



#15 Jason Stillion

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Posted 21 January 2014 - 21:56

I've never played CCS myself but a friend has explained it to me previously. Am I right in thinking you have to match 3 in so many moves, and it needs to be done in a particular order or you lose?

 

Bejeweled and other match type 3 games have similar modes and nobody has an issue with them. Only when you throw micro-transations in does it become an issue for people evidentally. That and having to bug people to get more attempts/lives/etc etc through social media. It's viral and for their benefit at the end of the day.

 

It's a lot like the bejeweled, combine gems earn points, then it starts adding in more difficult.

ex. you have to pop candy over certain areas to clear a layer below the grid. 

 

You get a certain amount of tries before you run out. You have to wait or purchase go again now vs latter.

There's permanently unlock to give permanent x number of extra turns.

Other types of power ups / pseudo cheats you can pay for.

 

The levels before you transition zones seemed to brutally hard. 

They have the social network thing so you can see how far behind you are with your friends. 

 

It's a brilliantly designed seductive game.

I will give kudo's for the music score as well.

 

(edit)

Or if you watched the Penny Arcade, perfect example of a skinner box game Operant Conditionin

 

I don't play, but my wife does, she doesn't buy unlocks / purchases but can spend days, or a week stuck on one level.