King CEO apologizes for copycat game, but defends Candy and Saga trademarks

By Andrew Yoon, Jan 28, 2014 5:30pm PST

Candy Crush Saga developer recently received flak from the development community for their attempts to trademark the word candy and their efforts in hindering other developers, notably the developer of The Banner Saga, which has no relation to King's game other than having the word "saga" in its title. Adding even more fuel to the fire, a developer recently accused King of blatantly copying and stealing one of their games.

In a public letter, the company's CEO Riccardo Zacconi admitted they had done wrong. "The bottom line is that we should never have published Pac-Avoid," a game which had more-than-a-passing resemblance to Scamperghost. "We have taken the game down from our site, and we apologize for having published it in the first place."

"Let me be clear: This unfortunate situation is an exception to the rule," he emphasized in his letter. "King does not clone games, and we do not want anyone cloning our games."

While Zacconi apologizes for the cloning incident, he's less apologetic regarding his company's trademark and defense. "The truth is that there is nothing very unusual about trademarking a common word for specific uses. Think of Time, Money, Fortune, Apple, and Sun, to name a few." And once again, he reiterates that while his company doesn't believe Banner Saga developer Stoic is infringing on their company's copyright with the word "saga," he says that his company has no choice but to block them "otherwise, it would be much easier for future copycats to argue that use of the word 'Saga' when related to games."

Of course, not everyone is sated by Zacconi's letter. "I find it pathetic that a company such as King would throw the blame around in this situation while hypocritically attacking others," Pac-Avoid developer Matt Porter wrote in a response (via Eurogamer). "Trademarking common words such as 'Candy' is just ridiculous. Bullying indie developers is even worse. The company is sitting on billions of dollars and everyone already knows about Candy Crush; I don't think they need to worry about getting ripped off, especially not by the people they're targeting."

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