In 2010, developer Albert Ransom released Candy Swipe, a simple match three game along the lines of Bejeweled, except with candy. His mother had just passed away, and she liked those sort of games, he writes in an open letter on his website. At the time, he filed for a trademark. In 2012, King released Candy Crush Saga, another match-three game that quickly became one of the most powerful and ubiquitous presences on the app store. Now, apparently, Ransom is abandoning his game after a protracted legal battle. He minces no words in his letter:
“I have spent over three years working on this game as an independent app developer. I learned how to code on my own after my mother passed and CandySwipe was my first and most successful game; it’s my livelihood, and you are now attempting to take that away from me. You have taken away the possibility of CandySwipe blossoming into what it has the potential of becoming. I have been quiet, not to exploit the situation, hoping that both sides could agree on a peaceful resolution. However, your move to buy a trademark for the sole purpose of getting away with infringing on the CandySwipe trademark and goodwill just sickens me.”
We’ve contacted King for comment on the letter, and will update with any response. The company made headlines when it filed to trademark the word “Candy” in the app store, and later when it opposed “The Banner Saga” based on its use of the word “Saga.” A little while ago, the company responded to some of the coverage with its own open letter:
“We believe in a thriving game development community, and believe that good game developers – both small and large – have every right to protect the hard work they do and the games they create.
Like any responsible company, we take appropriate steps to protect our IP, including our look-and-feel and trademarks. Our goals are simple: to ensure that our employees’ hard work is not simply copied elsewhere, that we avoid player confusion and that the integrity of our brands remains.”
Ransom wrote that he’s had hundred of people confused about whether or not his game was a Candy Crush Saga clone, despite the fact that his game came out two years earlier. The app store and Google Play can be vicious places, where outright cloning and all sorts of underhanded tactics sometimes rule the day over hard work and good apps. Large companies gain a massive advantage over indie developers, and it can be disheartening to see just how hard it is for small companies to make it.