Candy Crush Makers Challenging The Banner Saga Trademark

the-banner-saga-headerThere’s a line between everyday villainy and cartoonish supervillainy. The folks at King, the company behind the popular cash cow Candy Crush Saga, may have crossed that line.

While the internet collectively scratched their heads and said terrible things about King’s trademarking of the word “candy” in relation to gaming, educational services and clothing, they’re also claiming rights to the word “saga.”

The folks at Stoic have found this out the hard way. In late December, they were served with a Notice of Opposition by King for their game, The Banner Saga. The worst case scenario for Stoic would result in punitive damages levied against them.

Whether King actually has a case with the challenge is probably beside the point here seeing as trademark and copyright laws are a fairly specialized legal field.

The challenge is being made on the similarity of name rather than the contents of the game. While I don’t understand why Candy Crush needs the “Saga” on the end, it’s in the name and a trademark application has been filed. Obviously, if we were to compare the actual games, King’s challenge wouldn’t stand a chance. One is a free-to-play puzzle game subsiding on microtransactions and the other is a $25 Nordic-themed fantasy RPG. They aren’t even close.

I can understand King wanting to protect themselves from imitators. Whenever something popular comes out on the App Store, a bunch of quick knockoffs with similar sounding names and carbon copy gameplay show up to cash in on the popularity. If you’re to look up “Candy” or “Crush” or even “Saga” on the App Store or the Google Play store, you’re likely to find a bunch of recent games with those words thrown in there for publicity.

Maybe it’s just because I’m a gamer and write about gaming and tech as a hobby but I don’t see how Candy Crush Saga and The Banner Saga are similar enough to get confused. The word “Saga” is the only similarity between the two. Given the differences in theme, price, name, art style and platforms available on, I don’t think I’d ever get them confused. You can’t even buy The Banner Saga on the same platforms that you can find Candy Crush on.

This doesn’t cover the discussion point that the words “candy,” “crush,” and “saga” have each been used individually in gaming long before Candy Crush was ever envisioned.

Still, this whole incident shows how poor the current state of trademark and copyright law is. When a company can trademark a common as dirt word for a single purpose and challenge any use of that common word in relation to that usage, you’re starting a slippery slope. What if I wanted to trademark “geek” for use in online and print media publications? That would make for a disaster of epic proportions should I start enforcing it.

And that’s what has allowed King to start using single words in legal battles. If trademark and copyright laws were updated to allow for a bit more flexibility, trademarking “Candy Crush Saga” would provide for enough protection that obvious knock-offs wouldn’t need to be guarded against by trademarking four and five-letter words.

Mind you, if ifs and buts were candy and nuts, we’d all have a merry Christmas.

For their part, King is claiming that this challenge is just covering their bases and they aren’t maliciously attacking Stoic and The Banner Saga. It’s all just a legal play to keep themselves protected from other possible knock-offs.

King issued a statement reading:

“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.

In this case, that means preserving our ability to enforce our rights in cases where other developers may try to use the Saga mark in a way which infringes our IP rights and causes player confusion. If we had not opposed Banner Saga’s trade mark application, it would be much easier for real copy cats to argue that their use of ‘Saga’ was legitimate.

This is an important issue for King because we already have a series of games where ‘Saga’ is key to the brand which our players associate with a King game; Candy Crush Saga, Bubble Witch Saga, Pet Rescue Saga, Farm Heroes Saga and so on. All of these titles have already faced substantive trademark and copyright issues with clones.”

And, no I don’t associate “Saga” with King. I associate Candy Crush with King. Everyone who plays Candy Crush only calls it Candy Crush. When I looked it up on Google Play, I was confused by the inclusion of the word “Saga.” All this and I write about games in my spare time. Maybe King should give up the saga fight.

Sources: RPS, IGN


About Steve Murray

Steve is the founder and editor of The Lowdown Blog and et geekera. On The Lowdown Blog, he often writes about motorsports, hockey, politics and pop culture. Over on et geekera, Steve writes about geek interests and lifestyle. Steve is on Twitter at @TheSteveMurray.

Posted on January 23, 2014, in Games and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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