The makers of multi-million dollar mobile game Candy Crush Saga has responded to criticism over its approach to intellectual property after it recently trademarked the word ‘candy’ and pursued other publishers for infringement.
The outrage of online gamers was also stoked by King’s attempts to oppose an indie studio that was trying to trademark the name of its Nordic strategy title, The Banner Saga.
The disparity between the two publishers (King can easily afford a legal battle that could bankrupt Stoic) as well as the dissimilar nature of the two games (King’s is a bright and colourful puzzle game, Stoic’s is a realistic take on battling Vikings) has led to many commentators criticizing King.
The animosity against the publisher has even served to unearth old grudges, with one independent game developer claiming that the company published a title named Pac-Avoid that was essentially identical to one named ScamperGhost he had pitched to them in 2009. Both games bore more than a passing resemblance to Pac-Man.
These issues have all been addressed in an open letter from King’s CEO Riccardo Zacconi. In it Zacconi admits that King should “never have published Pac-Avoid,” and stressing that the title was a one-off event that would not happen again.
However, Zacconi defends the company’s position with regard to the trademarking of the word Candy: “We’ve been the subject of no little scorn for our actions on this front, but the truth is that there is nothing very unusual about trademarking a common word for specific uses,” says Zacconi.
“Think of “Time”, “Money” “Fortune”, “Apple”, and “Sun”, to name a few. We are not trying to control the world’s use of the word “Candy;” having a trade mark doesn’t allow us to do that anyway. We’re just trying to prevent others from creating games that unfairly capitalise on our success.”
With regards to the action against Stoic, King acknowledges that although it is “not trying to stop Banner Saga from using its name” it felt the need to “take all appropriate steps to protect our IP, both now and in the future.” King suggests that if Stoic is allowed to trademark the name The Banner Saga then its ability to protect its titles will be impaired.
So far it seems that King will not be changing its position, despite its CEO insistence that he is inviting “discussion and debate”.