Who knew a word as generic as "candy" could actually be trademarked?
Apparently it can, and it is.
That’s right. The highly popular and extremely addictive Candy Crush game filed a U.S. federal trademark registration in Feb. 2013. Just short of a year later, the federal status of the trademark filing is approved, as of Jan. 15.
Days later, news of the trademark is piling up on the web, detailing unsurprising frustration from developers.
But the legal implications are perhaps more far reaching than the statement implies. And yesterday afternoon a spokesperson from King, the maker of Candy Crush Saga, told us, “We don't enforce against all uses of candy — some are legitimate and, of course, we would not ask App developers who use the term legitimately to stop doing so.”
The trademark counts in the categories of computer and software products, education and entertainment services, and even clothing products, according to LegalForce.com. That means the endless number of games and applications, along with clothing lines, that use “candy” in their titles might have to either change their product name or remove it from sales altogether.
Efforts by King to reach out to the press came after a Gamezebo report released yesterday morning highlighted how one developer in particular, Benny Hsu, received an email from the iTunes legal department on behalf of King.
In an interview with Gamezebo, Hsu, the maker of All Candy Casino Slots – Jewel Craze Connect: Big Blast Mania Land said he quickly contacted Sophie Hallstrom, an IP paralegal with King, hoping to sort things out.
According to the report, she replied to him in writing: “Your use of CANDY SLOTS in your app icon uses our CANDY trademark exactly, for identical goods, which amounts to trademark infringement and is likely to lead to consumer confusion and damage to our brand. The addition of only the descriptive term "SLOTS" does nothing to lessen the likelihood of confusion.”
Hsu’s game “…shares no similarities with King’s properties aside from the word ‘candy’,” wrote Gamezebo reporter, Jim Squires.
Hsu told Gamezebo he, and other small indie developers like himself, can’t afford to call a lawyer to potentially create a settlement. “I plan on changing the name if that is what I must do,” he says.
In a direct address to Hsu’s application, King says enforcement of the company’s rights and protecting players from confusion against constant IP infringement is necessary.
“The particular App in this instance was called 'Candy Casino Slots — Jewels Craze Connect: Big Blast Mania Land', but its icon in the App store just says 'Candy Slots', focusing heavily on our trademark.”
Those in the software business aren’t the only ones expressing astonishment with the legality.
A slew of people and companies shared their opinions through tweets.
Taylor Martin (@caspertek) tweeted: “In every way, this is a fail on the part of the trademark system”
Linking to a news story on the filing, ABA-IPL, the ABA Section of Intellectual Property Law (@abaipl) sarcastically wrote: “Candy Crush Saga creator King gets greedy and trademarks the word ‘candy’.”
Cliff Bleszinske (@therealcliffyb) shared a link to a report as well, noting: “Having problems with competition in the App store and visibility? Just trademark the generic word in your title!”