title="candy crush saga official site">Candy Crush Saga is the most pervasive casual game phenomena since Angry Birds and it seems intent on crushing any potential competitors—at least those that use the word “candy” in their titles. King.com Limited registered claim with the US trademark office almost a year ago, to the word ‘candy’ as it pertains to video games (and clothing!) Well, last Wednesday, January 15, King’s filing was approved and today there are reports that developers are receiving emails from Apple if their games contain the word “candy” in the title. There is no report yet if any clothing makers have been contacted, but a quick look at the Zaraterez website shows that they are no longer offering Candy Crush as one of their leggings offerings.
According to a report by Jim Squires in the GameZebo blog, a developer named Benny Hsu, who makes a game called All Candy Casino Slots – Jewel Craze Connect: Big Blast Mania Land (quite a keyword-stuffed mouthful!), got such an email from Apple. “Lots of devs are frustrated cause it seems so ridiculous,” says Hsu. Developers are being asked to remove their apps from the App Store or prove that their gams do not infringe upon the Candy Crush trademark.
When Hsu contacted King.com, expecting an apology for the mistake, their paralegal answered him, “Your use of CANDY SLOTS in your app icon uses our CANDY trade mark exactly, for identical goods, which amounts to trade mark infringement and is likely to lead to consumer confusion and damage to our brand. The addition of only the descriptive term ‘SLOTS’ does nothing to lessen the likelihood of confusion.”
Copycat apps are indeed a serious issue on the app stores and it is hard to guard against fakes, but the Candy Crush claim seems a bit broad. Surely there are many games involving candy that are sufficiently differentiated from Candy Crush so as to not be deemed infringing. Ironically, Candy Crush Saga is itself a knockoff of a hugely popular (and decade old) “match-three” game called Bejeweled. But it is name recognition at question here, not originality. One would think that Hasbro, the maker of that venerable children’s board game (which does have video game versions) Candy Land, would already have this trademark sewed up.
Games like Candy Crush Saga represent big money for Apple, so it is no wonder they are helping to enforce King’s trademark efforts. And it is good for developers of popular games to see that Apple is combating copycats. But won’t many more developers be turned off by this apparent land grab in keyword space? What, no more “birds,” “farms,” “words,” ”rope,” ”fruit,” (or “ninjas”)? It seems to me that the notices should have been reserved for legitimate “copycat” games that are clearly playing on the popularity of Candy Crush and hoping to fool people into downloading their substandard app.
This last point is where this all gets a little absurd. Candy Crush Saga makes an estimated daily revenue of just shy of $1 million—and it’s a free game! It makes that money by sucking players into its manipulative game play and offering to scratch the resulting itches for a price. Someone might download a copycat game but they won’t actually get sucked in unless it’s actually a good game. Meanwhile, Candy Crush itself is being investigated by the U.K. Office of Fair Trading to see if “guidelines are needed to stop firms exploiting young users,” not to mention the 25-55 year-old female target demographic that has gotten hooked.
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