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Indie Devs Respond to King's "Candy" Trademark With a "Candy Jam"

King company's trademarks for "candy" and "saga" are stupid. And now indie devs are stepping up to make a point about that.

Candy Crush Saga developer, King.com has not been making people happy lately. In the fight to protect their intellectual property (a candy-colored ripoff of Bejeweled), they have given the Banner Saga trademark an infringement notice

And then there's their attempt to trademark the word "Candy" as well as "Saga" across a broad variety of products, from shower caps to computer games. This began in February of last year... and on January 15, 2014, King came even closer to owning that trademark since the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office approved it for publication.

Now, if you're a developer with the word "candy" in the name of your mobile app, you may need to change it.

Or get ready for an impending lawyer battle.

According to King, they don't want everyone's candy, they just want to protect themselves against IP infringers. On the Apple store, where King pulls in the majority of its money, similar-sounding apps abound, case in point: Candy Casino Slots - Jewel Craze Connect: Big Blast Mania.

Now this may not seem at first glance to look anything like Candy Crush Saga, but the App store icon simply reads Candy Slots, but for the uninformed eye, a quick search for "Candy" in hope of finding the Candy Crush game might fool you into thinking you've found King's product.

And this, King cannot abide.

"As well as infringing our and other developer's IP, use of keywords like this as an App name is also a clear breach of Apple's terms of use," says King. "We believe this App name was a calculated attempt to use other companies' IP to enhance its own games, through means such as search rankings."

King is quick to explain that it doesn't want to enforce its trademark against all forms of candy:

"Some are legitimate and of course, we would not ask App developers who use the term legitimately to stop doing so."

But this strikes most people as a rather hollow explanation since any "candy" app that comes close to treading on its IP for the sake of a sweet spot in the search ranking is getting put down.

According to GameZebo, reports are already coming in from game developers who use the word "candy" in their mobile games' names, and getting notifications from Apple about the trademark on behalf of King.

For those of you with a short memory, a similar situation happened back in 2012 over the word "Memory," but that particular trademark incident did not extend to the United States. This could set a bad precedent for those of us in North America. 

So indie developers are stepping up to protest King's actions.

An impromptu game jam has sprung up in response to the news.

The "Candy Jam" was created in protest of the trademark encourages developers to create any game with the word "candy" in the title because "trademarking common words is ridiculous."

It was thrown together by developers Caribou (@caribouloche) and T-Wave (@uuav) on January 23. Interested developers are encouraged to submit links to their games, along with images and description through the Candy Jam Tumblr page before the February 3 submissions deadline.

There has been no explanation so far on how the entries will be showcased or judged beyond the Tumblr account, but in the rules of the Candy Jam, bonus points "may" be awarded to games that are able to incorporate other notoriously trademarked terms "scroll," "memory," "saga," "apple," and "edge."

What do you think?

Is this a good way to combat the ridiculousness of the King company trademark? If you're an indie dev, would you consider submitting to this game jam in order to make a point to King?

Published Jan. 23rd 2014

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