Millions of people around the world have a love-hate relationship with Candy Crush Saga, those who love the game can’t get enough of it, those who have never played it hate being pestered by friends and family with constant requests on Facebook. There’s no denying the fact that Candy Crush Saga has become very popular, its a cash cow for King, the developer of this game. The game is undoubtedly King’s intellectual property, but the developer is adamant that it includes the word “candy” as well. King.com Limited, on February 6th 2013, registered a claim to the word “candy” with the U.S. Trademark Office, pertaining to the use of this word in video games and even accessories, including items like clothing. The filing was approved on January 15th, 2014 and now a lot of developers are reporting that they’re being asked to remove “candy” from their applications, or provide proof that the use of the word doesn’t infringe on King’s trademark.
Benny Hsu is one such developer, he was asked to comply because his app is called All Candy Casino Slots, though Hsu argues that its not similar to any of King’s intellectual properties apart from the usage of the word. He contacted King’s intellectual property paralegal, and was told that “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 paralegal also argues that the additional of the descriptive term “SLOTS” does not lessen the likelihood of confusion.
Even though the U.S. Trademark Office agrees that King has a claim to this suggestive trademark, its not like King can go against candy companies, they don’t use the word as a trademark, they simply use it to describe their product. Though when it comes to videogames, and other items that King believes it has a claim to with regards to the word “candy,” its not like someone can’t claim they came up with it on their own. Suggestive trademarks might be protectable, but they can certainly be disputed by someone willing to engage in a long and arduous legal matter. Unfortunately, for a lot of indie developers like Hsu, hiring an intellectual property lawyer to go down this road is next to impossible because of the costs involved.