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

King, developer of Candy Crush Saga, is not stepping down from its trademark scandal, even as the company's CEO apologizes for copying a game.


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."

Andrew Yoon was previously a games journalist creating content at Shacknews.

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From The Chatty
  • reply
    January 28, 2014 5:30 PM

    Andrew Yoon posted a new article, King CEO apologizes for copycat game, but defends Candy and Saga trademarks.

    King, developer of Candy Crush Saga, is not stepping down from its trademark scandal, even as the company's CEO apologizes for copying a game.

    • reply
      January 28, 2014 5:50 PM lists 100 games with the word "Saga" in them - including a 2008 game actually called "SAGA". If any of those get rereleased by their license holders, it'd make an interesting battle for King, since most of them predate Candy Saga.

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        January 29, 2014 2:00 AM

        Yeah I'm not sure how that one will even remotely stand up in court.

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          January 29, 2014 6:20 AM

          It's not the same as patents where prior art has precedence. Trademark " is a recognizable sign, design or expression which identifies products or services of a particular source from those of others." -- Wikipedia

          In this definition, I could see how they maybe in the right to protect their IP. I think he's inaccurate about comparing trademarking Candy the same way as a company protects its name. Company name and product name are rather different, one being a legal entity while the other is usually a kind of commodity.

          But, this is very similar to Bethesda's attempt to lock up the work Scrolls.

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      January 28, 2014 5:57 PM

      This entire thing still feels totally weird to me, as Candy Crush Saga is itself just another in the endless iterations of the match-3 genre and doesn't do a single thing I haven't seen copied in a ton of similar games.

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        January 29, 2014 1:20 AM

        But is has sold like a billion copies. My wife has been playing it on her iPhone for months. I know a guy who has spend hundreds of dollars buying lives for it too. It's making them wheelbarrow loads of money. But this whole "candy" and "saga" nonsense is just that: fucking nonsense. I would be embarrassed to have said the things this guy has said.

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      January 28, 2014 5:58 PM


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      January 28, 2014 9:25 PM

      This is far from an isolated incident. Casual games are a cesspool of clones and copycats, and King acting as if they are an exception is ridiculous.

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        January 29, 2014 6:56 AM

        Oh wow, they ripped off Peggle? Fuck them.

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      January 28, 2014 11:45 PM

      There's no such thing as bad publicity. Even now King gets free publicity from their ass like behaviour towards a quality game like Banner Saga that has nothing to do with King's cheap copycat games like Candy Crush Saga.

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      January 29, 2014 6:38 AM

      King still disgusts me with their actions. The worst part is the majority of their player base doesn't care about all this negative press and will continue to play anyway. Trying to convince as many of my friends mothers as I can to stop playing.

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      January 29, 2014 10:09 AM

      This feels like a good excuse to show off my Candy Jam game.

      There's a guide in the main menu. It's going to ask you to log in to Facebook, but that's just for the scoreboard, and isn't required. Still a few bugs I need to iron out, occasionally the game doesn't end properly, not quite sure why, but I'm also participating in One Game A Month, so I'm finishing that first.

Hello, Meet Lola