Why You Should Boycott King and Candy Crush Saga

25 Jan

Two days ago, I logged onto Facebook when fellow author, Victoria Perkins, shared this article: King ARE Trying to Candy-Crush The Banner Saga. I recommend reading that article – as well as the others I link below – as you read this, but I will try to explain my argument (and why this can affect other art industries) as if the links are broken. I also want to recommend looking up the differences of patents, trademarks, and copyrights if you’re not already familiar with them.

Okay. Here we go:

If you don’t already know, King is the company that owns Candy Crush Saga, and they have filed with the United States Patent and Trademark office for the words “candy” and “saga.” Before you think it will be impossible to pass this, The Banner Saga sequel – a video game based on Norse mythology – has already been blocked. Of course King claims that this trademark will not be enforced against all uses, but they are claiming they were trademarking “saga” because The Banner Saga by Stoic was getting money because of gamers’ confusion. I find this hard to believe. Gamers can read; they can also see. I’m pretty sure no one would mistake a group of Vikings for a candy, puzzle game.

So, why did King actually file this and what does it means for all industries?

King is a LARGE company with millions behind it. In fact, they are said to take in half of a million per day. Stoic – the owner of The Banner Saga – isn’t. It’s an Indie company that King has claimed they aren’t threatened by. If King isn’t threatened by Stoic, then why is King trying to take away Stoic’s abilities to use the title? Because King is trying to monopolize the market while also preventing other artists from rising. I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility that other, large companies might follow suit if this is successful. Filmmakers might trademark single-word titles. Publishers might be next. Think about it: they can afford to trademark and to protect that trademark with lawyers without batting an eyelash. Most Indie artists cannot afford a lawsuit, and large companies will rely on that. If this was successful, it could potentially ruin the independent artist.

Now, I have two things I want to clarify:

1.   I don’t think it will pass – but I don’t think that’s reason enough to be submissive about it and not speak out. We must let these companies know how much we disagree with their actions.

2.  I don’t like the repetitive, monopolized culture any more than the next artist – we’ve all seen it. We go to the bookstore one week after the “City of Bones” movie releases and all of a sudden every other novel has “city” or “bones” in the title. Trademarking words to a singular game or book might prevent this, but I don’t think companies or artists should do this. Instead, I wish artists and their companies would refuse to jump onto the trend’s train, stand out on their own, and be confident in their abilities instead of trying to mooch off of someone else’s popularity.

Getting a trademark on a word for any reason is not only wrong, it is also destructive, and it is destructive for everyone – gamers, writers, photographers, etc. If it happens because we were sitting back, this will become the Pandora’s box of trademarks, waiting to freeze future projects.

So what can we do to make sure we’re stopping this? 

We can contact King and ask them to stop, boycott their games, and/or spread the word to others, especially those who play their games. We can also support Stoic as well as other independent artists. Even though there is a small chance these things will pass, I still think we need to show how we will not support these corporations as they try to smother the independent artist. Please consider these three things carefully. I know I will be doing all of them.

I asked what you thought on my Facebook author page, and Raymond E. Feist, the New York Times and  Times of London bestselling author, explained a lot of important information:

Join me on Facebook, and your answers might be used next!

Join me on Facebook, and your answers might be used next!

“Trademarks are different critter than copyrights, but people often confuse the two. The short answer for a very complex question is the can trademark “Candy Crush Saga” and the distinctive type design, and any attached artwork. It’s narrow and specific and doesn’t percent people from using candy, crush, or saga in other trademarks. If it did, they couldn’t trademark crush because of Orange Crush soda and how many candies are out there besides See’s? That being said, they are likely to lose their opposition on Banner Saga unless they can clearly show confusion in the marketplace due to similarities in type design, art, etc. the only reason they’ll get a hearing on this if they do is both are gaming products. If it were Saga Outerwear (real company making outdoor gear) or Saga Music (another real company) they’d have their opposition tossed. My bet is the Patent Office will kick the complaint.”

So what do you think? Are you planning on boycotting and/or messaging King?

~SAT

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20 Responses to “Why You Should Boycott King and Candy Crush Saga”

  1. isakib2008 January 25, 2014 at 12:20 am #

    Nice post just follow me.

    • Kas February 19, 2014 at 8:01 pm #

      Not only have I boycotted them, I’m spreading the word to friends and family and I’ve voiced my frustration and irritation directly to King via email. Now will start supporting the “little guys”.

      Hey, thanks for your article, wish “good / honesty wasn’t something we always have to fight for.

      Kas

  2. Carl January 25, 2014 at 2:06 am #

    Let Bogart decide.

    I wouldn’t worry if this could affect publishing / writing. I hear there’s precedence on book titles about trademarks; it’s a challenge to prove real infringement, as most books are sold not by title, but by author.

    The gaming industry has a few vultures on copyright protection, yet with trademarks, infringement has to pass a few tests: confuses the average consumer; intent to harm the trademark and its owners financial standings. I believe there’s another test most courts require it to pass.

    The trouble indies (or small businesses) run into is they can’t afford the legal fees, so they give in and change things. Paying a lawyer just for consultation becomes expensive.

  3. heatherbcosta January 25, 2014 at 2:45 am #

    Great post, Shannon!

    I think it is about time that we all started standing up to the big boys out there. How silly to try to trademark certain words in the English language! It is unfair that the companies with the deepest pockets seemingly get their own way all the time, how are smaller, independent companies supposed to survive. Instead of feeling threatened, King should use some of the many millions of dollars they make and donate it to grassroots artistic endeavours, whatever the field, be it writing, gaming, photography etc.

    I hope this ridiculous trademark application does not pass as it will be a sad day for all concerned if it does.

    Heather xxx

    • Shannon A Thompson January 25, 2014 at 1:29 pm #

      Heather,

      I’m glad you liked it! I know it’s easy for people not to do anything simply because it probably won’t pass – but like you said, it’s about time we start letting these companies know that we see what they are doing and their actions have repercussions. I also liked how you mentioned how much money they have – how they could be using it for charity instead of these pointless lawsuits.
      Thank you for commenting!

      ~SAT

      • heatherbcosta January 26, 2014 at 6:25 am #

        Hi Shannon,

        I think us little folk need to stick together and stand up to the greedy suits who have all the money and want to monopolise the market. If we sit back and say nothing we are as good as endorsing their terrible behaviour and enabling them to continue to get away with it.

        Perhaps if enough people join forces then companies like King will finally listen to what is being said.

        Heather xxx

  4. MishaBurnett January 25, 2014 at 5:51 am #

    I think this is a poor decision on the part of King.

    I have seen games that are clearly rip-offs of popular franchises (there are dozens of farming games, for example) and I am sure that Candy Crush has inspired some. (I’m not familiar with that particular game, so I would recognize them.)

    So I can understand the frustration of putting the time and money into marketing a product and then seeing other companies cash in by making a knock-off.

    What I suspect happened is that someone in Marketing sent off a memo to someone in Legal. The Legal department gave it to someone who doesn’t actually know the product line and just did an internet search for games that contained certain keywords and sent off Cease & Desist letters in bulk.

    The problem, as you pointed out, is that even a spurious legal action can be prohibitively expensive for a small company to fight. Often legal issues are decided not by who is right, but by who can survive a lengthy court battle.

    The answer, in my opinion, is public pressure, as you are doing here and I have seen elsewhere. King should drop this action (and probably others) right away, and demonstrating that they will suffer in terms of market share and sales is the quickest way to get them to do it.

  5. mikeyb @ screenkicker January 25, 2014 at 6:08 am #

    It’s almost funny that a company like King that straight up copies successful games have the nerve to do this. You should Google the name ‘Tim Langdell’. He trademarked the word ‘Edge’ and then proceeded to sue game makers with that word in the titles of their games. It’s an interesting story

    • Shannon A Thompson January 25, 2014 at 1:30 pm #

      Thank you for sharing this! A friend of mine also pointed this out, and I think this information is really important to know when reading about King and their actions.
      ~SAT

  6. Charles Yallowitz January 25, 2014 at 7:06 am #

    I don’t play the game, so I’m technically already in the boycott. Anyway, I have to agree with what was said before me. It probably won’t pass and there will be some fallout. Not enough to do a lot of damage to King, but they will forever have some bad blood surrounding them after this.

    This reminds me of the ‘Avatar’ and ‘Avatar the Last Airbender’ fiasco. At least in the way that these creators seem to think the audience is filled with morons. Bald boy who can control the elements and is from a popular cartoon getting confused with a sci-fi movie with blue cat-people aliens? Sure some people will get confused because they don’t pay attention, but not enough to cause a dent in either franchise. Yet, Airbender had to change its name. Not that it was a good movie in the first place.

    I think the scary thing is the precedence that this sets. Cameron’s side succeeded and King might fail, but it shows companies that they can make the attempt. Sadly this isn’t even anything new:

    http://www.theleek.com/2012/10/craziest-celebrity-trademarks/

    • Shannon A Thompson January 25, 2014 at 1:31 pm #

      Charles,

      Those are all GREAT points – this has happened before, and it has happened in many industries. Thank you for expanding on this discussion once again.

      ~SAT

      • Charles Yallowitz January 25, 2014 at 1:47 pm #

        You’re welcome. :)

      • Charles Yallowitz January 25, 2014 at 1:51 pm #

        I knew there was another story that dealt with this. Bethesda is suing the makers of Minecraft because the Minecraft people are making a game called ‘Scrolls’. Bethesda is the company behind the Elderscrolls video game series with the most recent being Skyrim. I believe they settled, but it was over that single word.

  7. Jaclyn Karabinas (soulstrikersedu.com) January 25, 2014 at 8:28 pm #

    Hi there! I enjoy reading here and nominated you for a Sunshine Award. You can read about it here: http://soulstrikersedu.com/

  8. debyfredericks January 25, 2014 at 9:06 pm #

    I still remember, with great irritation, how Tod McFarlane trademarked “spawn” and then hounded anyone who came close to his little empire. Feh. Sometimes I wonder why certain characters and franchises become as popular as they do. Spawn always seemed to me like a box covered with shiny paper, but inside was empty.

    “I wish artists and their companies would refuse to jump onto the trend’s train, stand out on their own, and be confident in their abilities instead of trying to mooch off of someone else’s popularity.” My fondest dream!

  9. Renae Rude - The Paranormalist February 11, 2014 at 11:45 am #

    My daughter was just recently ranting about this and I didn’t get it as well as I should have. Having seen you reinforce her concern here has made me start to to understand how important this issue is.

  10. mkyam (@mkyam) February 18, 2014 at 9:56 pm #

    The irony is that it’s King’s Candy Crush that was the copycat in the first place!
    Have a look here http://www.candyswipe.com/king.html

  11. firecook March 11, 2014 at 9:57 pm #

    I think This King is really a nut . I heard about something like this. He wanted the word Candy to be his or something of the sort and that’s not right because it’s used in many different ways .It was around before this dork was .I don’t even like the game to me it’s lame the only good thing is because it’s sweets and I love things of sweets and food. Never played the game never will and now since he’s really getting dumb I won’t . I don’t think King can get a Monapoley. because years ago people or business was pretty bad about it and in the 1940s they said nope and made it against the law . I believe .Also if I read right about Saga he can’t have a copyright or trademark on that word because Star wars has Saga by George Lucus in the1970s .So does that mean you or George Lucus will be going to court for using a word? Saga was made and used long time before this dork was around I think this dude has one to many inhaling his money.. That’s my 2 cents I hope I didn’t offend anyone well King if he is then good. Oh! Thanks for following my blog. Have a nice day and spread the word…..

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. My Insecurities and How I Overcame Them | Shannon A Thompson - February 18, 2014

    […] article I would like everyone who plays Candy Crush Saga to consider. As many of you know I wrote, Why You Should Boycott King and Candy Crush Saga, less than a month ago, and now I have another reason to encourage it. Please read this: CandySwipe […]

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