Game publisher King Digital Entertainment applied for its Candy Crush Saga trademark in 2012 causing Albert Ransom, creator of the Android game CandySwipe, to oppose it for likelihood of confusion. Fast-forward two years, and Ransom now faces the possibility of canceling the name of his own game.
CandySwipe was released in 2010 as a match three game in honor of the creator’s late mother, a victim of leukemia. According to an open letter to King, Ransom’s mother “always liked these sorts of games,” (Snopes, 2014). Ransom also states that hundreds of people have now been confused as to whether or not his game is a clone of Candy Crush Saga, despite his game having been released two years prior. CandySwipe supports Ransom and his two children; coding the game was a process that took three years, and Ransom is self-taught, a story not unfamiliar to many indie game developers.
Due to negative public attention regarding King acquiring “Candy” related trademarks, King issued their own open letter prior to Ransom’s:
“Like any responsible company, we take appropriate steps to protect our IP, including our look-and-feel and trademarks. Our goals are simple: to ensure that our employees’ hard work is not simply copied elsewhere, that we avoid player confusion and that the integrity of our brands remains.”
In full tragic irony, Ransom is now most likely abandoning his game after dealing with the trademark dispute over CandySwipe and Candy Crush Saga for two years (it is still not resolved). King has fully prepared themselves for an IP battle. They purchased “Candy Crusher” which has been around since 2004, meaning that their ownership now precedes that of Ransom’s 2010 game.
In Feb. 2014, King also filed to issue an IPO of stock, and “some analysts have predicted that the NY Stock Exchange could value the company as high as $5.5 billion based largely on the strength of Candy Crush Saga” (Snopes, 2014).
Here is a quick comparison of CandySwipe and Candy Crush Saga:
From Ransom’s open letter:
“You have taken away the possibility of CandySwipe blossoming into what it was the potential of becoming….your move to buy a trademark for the sole purpose of getting away with infringing on the CandySwipe trademark and goodwill just sickens me.” – Albert Ransom
I agree with Ransom. I find it unfortunate that indie developers don’t have the time or money to have legal teams that will fight for their intellectual property rights. Unfortunately, this whole situation sets the precedent for indie developers to give up on their own hard work.
Makedonski, B. (2/14/2014). CandySwipe developer writes sad open letter to King. Destructoid. (accessed 3/4/2014)
Schimelpfening, N. (2/18/2014). Candy Crush: King files for IPO, faces claims idea stolen from CandySwipe. Liberty Voice. (Accessed 3/4/2014).
Snopes, (2/19/2014). Candy Crush Saga. (accessed 2/4/2014)
Their, D. (2/12/2014). ‘Candy Swipe’ dev pens furious open letter to ‘Candy Crush’ makers. Forbes. (accessed 3/4/2014)