Recently the internet has been exploding over the news of games developer King, creators of Candy Crush, has filed the words ’Candy’ and ‘Saga’ as trademarked.
This has affected many other games including the newly released The Banner Saga, who King has filed a Notice of Opposition against. King’s practices now come into question as a trademark war seems to just be starting.
It’s true that many of King’s games include ‘Saga’; Candy Crush Saga, Bubble Witch Saga, Pet Rescue Saga and so on. It’s also true that ‘Candy’ trademark is focused on those games that are almost clones of Candy Crush and in this sense King has every right to file against them. However, when it comes to those games that are unfortunate to have one of these trademarked words in their title, but whose content bears no similarity, the case falls apart.
If anything this is putting King into a terrible light in its market’s eyes. We all know that gaming companies need to make their money, especially now with so many seeming to take a hit. King hasn’t faced this problem and is deemed incredibly successful, with an estimated $956,114 per day coming in from Candy Crush Saga alone their moves seem unnecessary. It alludes memories of all those Apple vs. Samsung or Apple vs. (insert other company name) with their patent wars summoning the thought ‘did mummy never teach you to share your toys?’
What comes as a shock is that it’s not really happened in the world of games, it’s almost expected from larger domineering technology companies, but the gaming industry seemed to have more of a mutual respect for rivalling companies. Trademarks and patents are essential to companies to protect their products and intellectual property and I fully support companies fighting against product piracy, but like so many other things it can be easily abused.
“A trademark is a word, symbol, or phrase, used to identify a particular manufacturer or seller’s products and distinguish them from the products of another.”
Trademarking words tends to be saved to company names or of a big product, like ‘Nike,’ ‘Google’ or the ‘iPad’ which is exactly where the law is relevant and fair, but there seems to be this culture starting where trademarks are acquired in order to sell on or stop any competition emerging.
Businesses love the monopoly, and in the games industry there is a particularly large gap between the big AAA companies and the far smaller indie companies. Now you would be incredibly lucky to see an indie company, or game for that matter rise to the heights of Ubisoft or EA.This has never been due to larger companies trying to stop indies from being successful, though their success is down to the larger advertising budget, becoming a household name and, of course, making good games.
Although issuing a statement to IGN saying “King has not and is not trying to stop Banner Saga from using its name. We do not have any concerns that Banner Saga is trying build on our brand or our content. However, like any prudent company, we need to take all appropriate steps to protect our IP, both now and in the future.” From their actions it does feel as if they are trying to stand on the little people; which I sincerely hope will not become a trend.