A small development company claims it is the latest victim of King.com's attempts to trademark various common words, while raising questions on just how original the company's biggest success Candy Crush Saga truly is.
Casual gaming giant King, often referred to as the new Zynga, has been in for a rough time on the public relations front of late thanks to a decision by the company's legal department to aggressively chase trademark infringement - even when such infringement would appear to be non-obvious. When it looked to force The Banner Saga
to drop the word 'saga' from the title
, the company earned the ire of the site's fans - and was then further accused of directly ripping off another developer's work
in a title which additionally infringed on Namco's copyrights.
The furore was enough for the company to publish an open letter
in which its tactics were defended and claims of cloning denied - but that appears to have driven another developer who claims to be a victim of King to write a letter of his own, with some very strong claims against the company.
Albert Ransom is the developer of CandySwipe, a casual sweet-themed object-matching game released in 2010 in memory of his late mother. The game, it must be said, bears more than a passing resemblance to King's hit Candy Crush Saga, which wouldn't arrive on the scene until 2012 to propel the company to the big leagues. 'Two years after I released CandySwipe, you released Candy Crush Saga on mobile; the app icon, candy pieces, and even the rewarding [message] "Sweet!" are nearly identical,
' Ransom claims in his open letter
. 'So much so, that I have hundreds of instances of actual confusion from users who think CandySwipe is Candy Crush Saga, or that CandySwipe is a Candy Crush Saga knockoff.
Cloning the game isn't the only crime Ransom accused King of, however. 'When you attempted to register your trademark in 2012, I opposed it for "likelihood of confusion" (which is within my legal right) given I filed for my registered trademark back in 2010 (two years before Candy Crush Saga existed),
' he explains. 'Now, after quietly battling this trademark opposition for a year, I have learned that you now want to cancel my CandySwipe trademark so that I don't have the right to use my own game's name. You are able to do this because only within the last month you purchased the rights to a game named Candy Crusher (which is nothing like CandySwipe or even Candy Crush Saga).
'Good for you, you win,
' a clearly and understandably bitter Ransom writes. 'I hope you're happy taking the food out of my family's mouth when CandySwipe clearly existed well before Candy Crush Saga. 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.
King has not yet commented on Ransom's claims.