The mobile game hit du jour just got a new feature: extra trademark protection. The US Patent and Trademark office last week awarded King, makers of smash game Candy Crush Saga, a trademark on the word “candy.”
GameZebo reports that the trademark application, first filed in February of 2013, was approved on January 15.
The “candy” trademark applies not only to video games, but also to “over 100 fields, ranging from DVD players to baby monitors, exposed photographic film, educational services, amusement parks, gambling facilities, and practically every article of clothing you could name,” according to Ars Technica.
King is already moving to protect their brand-new asset. An independent developer of a slots-style game called All Candy Casino Slots – Jewels Craze Connect: Big Blast Mania Land told GameZebo about the takedown request he had received from Apple, and the response he got from King:
“Your use 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.”
While it’s true that a game as hugely successful as Candy Crush Saga spawns an enormous legion of clones and knockoffs, a trademark on the word “candy” allows King to cast perhaps too wide a net. A search for “candy” on Google Play tops out at 250 results; on the iPhone’s app store, that search brings up about 2200 results. Some products are very clearly Candy Crush Saga clones, or using Candy Crush-like icons to draw potential players, but others are entirely unrelated.
King insists that “legitimate” uses of their now-trademarked term are fine by them. A representative said in a statement: “We have trademarked the word ‘CANDY’ in the EU, as our IP is constantly being infringed and we have to enforce our rights and to protect our players from confusion. 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.”
In the US, the trademark has been published but not yet officially registered. That’s an important distinction: the trademark now enters a 30-day period where anyone can file an opposition. Companies that wish to demonstrate prior use of the term “candy” can file their objections with the USPTO during that time.
For the moment, though, legitimacy seems to be in the eye of the trademark holder–and that’s King.