So there’s some big news in the trademark world today it seems. King.com the owners of Candy Crush have trademarked the word “Candy” in both the Video Game market and the clothing market, and Apple is enforcing this trademark in The App Store. On Wednesday, January 15 King.com’s trademark was approved and app store developers have already been receiving notices that if your game contains the word “Candy” you have to change your name.
According to Jim Squires who writes for the Game Zebo blog, Benny Hsu, an app store developer that makes a game called “All Candy Casino Slots – Jewel Craze Connect: Big Blast Mania Land” has already received an email from Apple asking to remove the app from the app store or prove that his game does not infringe upon the newly minted “Candy” trademark. Hsu initially assumed this was just a mistake, and contacted King.com to show he hadn’t infringed on their trademark and King.com responded saying, “Your user 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 addition of only the descriptive term ‘SLOTS’ does nothing to lessen the likelihood of confusion.”
This is a disgrace to the US trademark system, while apps that simply copycat other apps are a problem especially in the App Store, King.com is abusing their newly minted trademark to harass well meaning developers. It’s also impressive, because most people would say that Candy Crush itself is just a knock-off of Bejeweled.
How can our trademark system get so blatantly abused by developers like King.com? There is an interesting solution to this problem, but it comes down to how the Trademark system works. Initially the Trademark holder only has to prove to the US Trademark Office that they have a trademark, and then only after someone decides they want to legally battle the trademark claim in front of a judge will we learn if the trademark actually holds its weight or not. My guess, it won’t.
Apple however is another story, because Apple gets to play the judge and jury in the app store and without a real judge presiding, Apple has to go along with the US Trademark Office initially to protect their own back. Apple however will most likely side with the developer that makes them the most money, and a game like Candy Crush makes around $1 million per day, which is pretty awesome for a “free” game. Candy Crush also proves an interesting point I like to bring up to people, gamers are both male and female, and females currently comprise 48% of the total gamers. So to build a game like Candy Crush that caters to the female market is a brilliant business decision, because so many game studios cater to the male demographics.
I’m disappointed in King.com currently, but we’ll see who else complains that King.com has contacted them in regards to trademark infringement on a simple word “Candy.” My theory is Candy Land may need to start gearing up to protect themselves as King.com may start going after them : P. (Just kidding, Candy Land as a game has been around far longer than Candy Crush and therefore proves the point that use of the word “Candy” doesn’t constitute trademark infringement in the slightest bit)