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.
“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?