Gamers were amused – and later outraged – months ago when King, the developer and publisher of the ‘Saga’ franchise of games (the most famous of which being Candy Crush Saga – the game that everyone and their pets have been playing) stated their intentions of trademarking the word ‘Candy’ in the United States, as they had in Europe. While the move seemed foolish at first, the company soon proved they meant business.
The announcement was soon followed by legal actions taken on behalf of King, effectively setting out to shut down games bearing the ‘candy’ name in both Android and iOS marketplaces. The move, King claimed in an open letter, was to protect their billion dollar IP. Yet the actions drew the ire of critics and gamers who saw it as a case of a large company stomping on the small developer, since several mobile games had little to do with Candy Crush‘s core gameplay or style.
Now it appears that David, Goliath and the gamers who enjoy and and despise their games in equal measure have all come out on top as some of the most notable disputes have been resolved.
At the center of the controversy was developer Stoic, the team behind The Banner Saga; a role-playing game based around Viking lore, whose own attempts to file for a series trademark was put in jeopardy when King opposed the move based on their use of the word ‘saga.’ At the time, Stoic accused King of hindering the development of their Banner Saga games without said trademark (citing a similar desire to protect their IP), but King defended their stance – while apparently admitting Stoic wasn’t at fault.
As the bad press continued to build, a new blog post on Stoic’s company website implies the two have settled their differences:
“Stoic is pleased to have come to an agreement with King regarding Stoic’s The Banner Saga trademark, which enables both parties to protect their respective trademarks now and in the future.”
A far stickier situation remained in terms of King’s attempt to copyright “candy,” giving them the right to oppose any future games bearing the title. Under intense pressure that even resulted in a ‘Candy Jam’ to create candy-themed games in protest, King recently abandoned their attempt to trademark the word – but not before they had launched a counterclaim against Albert Ransom, the developer of CandySwipe.
The two shared a bit of history, with Ransom filing legal action of his own, claiming that King had copied Candy Crush Saga from his own mobile title. So when the company sought to oppose his trademark on the name CandySwipe, the story grabbed its fair share of headlines. However, Ransom has also released the following statement on his blog:
“I am happy to announce that I have amicably resolved my dispute with King over my CandySwipe trademark and that I am withdrawing my opposition to their mark and they are withdrawing their counterclaim against mine. I have learned that they picked the CANDY CRUSH name before I released my game and that they were never trying to take my game away. Both our games can continue to coexist without confusing players.”
The short statements from both Stoic and Ransom (and the lack of one from King) don’t reveal much in terms of just why a well-funded company like King would drop a battle that they would likely win, but it may be a sign King wishes to get the public back on their side (and thus more likely to be interested in their products. Especially after their recent debut on the stock market went over like a sack of lead balloons.
Whether this reassures to fans who want to have faith in the company, or developers who operated in fear of being squashed by a well-funded boot remains to be seen. But at least for now, it seems all parties have walked away happy.