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King, a video game studio, created Candy Crush Saga. For those unfamiliar, it is an insanely popular free-to-play video game. How popular? Per the New York Daily News, it has been downloaded more than 500 million times, was the most downloaded free app of 2013, and was the year's top revenue grossing app. That popular.
It's big. And with success comes copycats and infringers. King is doing what any responsible company would do, attempting to protect its IP. But is it going too far?
Yes, the word candy. According to the Daily News, the EU trademark application applies to computer games, as well as certain other products, such as shoes and clothing. The U.S. Patent and Trademark tentatively approved the United States application earlier this week, which also covers games, clothing, electronic devices, and a ton of services (from educational to party planning).
Don't be alarmed if you produce candy-coated shoes, however. The company stated that it will only enforce the trademark against clones and imitators. They will not go after games or products that legitimately use the term "candy."
Legitimate, of course, is a grey area in some cases, and even though competitors have thirty days to oppose the trademark application, the company has already started going after games that use the word "candy," such as a slot machine game, reports Venture Beat.
Apparently, King isn't nearly as lenient with the company's other trademarked term: saga.
Stoic Studio, the maker of a role-playing game about Vikings, The Banner Saga, filed for its own trademark for the full title of its own game. King is opposing that application [PDF], even though the two games share no similarities, other than a single word.
Bully or IP Guardian?
King told IGN that it is merely protecting its valuable "saga" brand (it has a number of games with the word "saga" in the title), and that if it doesn't defend its IP, it can lose the right to do so in the future. It has no issue with Stoic using the name, but does oppose the trademark.
Where does that leave The Banner Saga? If they can't trademark their own name, that exposes them to the same danger that plagued King with Candy Crush Saga, copycats, and leaves them with no remedy.