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article imageCandy Crush makers enter a new legal saga

By D.M. McGrory     Feb 16, 2014 in Technology
An independent app maker has penned an open letter to the developers of the highly addictive Candy Crush Saga game accusing them of “taking the food out of my family’s mouth”, over attempts to cancel his trademark.
Albert Ransom, maker of CandySwipe posted to the game's official site noting existing confusion between CandySwipe and the Candy Crush Saga game, developed by European firm King.
He states that he filed for his registered trademark in 2010, two years before King launched Candy Crush Saga in 2012.
In April 2013, Runsome Apps, Mr. Ransom’s small firm, filed a notice of opposition against King’s application to trademark “Candy Crush Saga.” Ransom hasn’t personally accused King of copying his game, - though some news sources have - but argues that his business will be irrevocably damaged if King is allowed to trademark “Candy Crush Saga.”
Regarded gamer news site IGN reports that Ransom also provided links to legal documentation of his opposition to King's trade mark attempts and provided a lengthy comparison to further demonstrate potential brand confusion.
Late last week King filed a counter claim to Ransom’s opposition, saying that since it now owns the rights to a rival game Candy Crusher and now has “priority” over CandySwipe.
The Candy Crush Saga game, which has Facebook and Smartphone app-based editions was the most downloaded app of 2013. It has been downloaded to smart phones more than 500 million times and racks up daily sales of $850,000.
Reports surfacing earlier this month suggest that King had rested its plans to ‘go public’ in a $5bn Initial Public Offering (IPO) after potential investors raised fears that it is a one-hit-wonder. The company is now expected to wait at least a year before attempting to take the company public.
The success of King has been compared to that of its rival Zynga, makers of Farmville, which went public in the US in 2011 and went on to lose around three quarters of its value.
The highly personal open letter written by CandySwipe’s maker can be read in full below:
Dear King,
Congratulations! You win! I created my game CandySwipe in memory of my late mother who passed away at an early age of 62 of leukaemia. I released CandySwipe in 2010 five months after she passed and I made it because she always liked these sorts of games. In fact, if you beat the full version of the Android game, you will still get the message saying ‘…the game was made in memory of my mother, Layla…’ I created this game for warm-hearted people like her and to help support my family, wife and two boys 10 and four. Two years after I released CandySwipe, you released Candy Crush Saga on mobile; the app icon, candy pieces, and even the rewarding, ‘Sweet!’ are nearly identical. So much so, that I have hundreds of instances of actual confusion from users who think CandySwipe is Candy Crush Saga, or that CandySwipe is a Candy Crush Saga knock-off. So when you attempted to register your trademark in 2012, I opposed it for ‘likelihood of confusion’ (which is within my legal right) given I filed for my registered trademark back in 2010 (two years before Candy Crush Saga existed). Now, after quietly battling this trademark opposition for a year, I have learned that you now want to cancel my CandySwipe trademark so that I don’t have the right to use my own game’s name. You are able to do this because only within the last month you purchased the rights to a game named Candy Crusher (which is nothing like CandySwipe or even Candy Crush Saga). Good for you, you win. I hope you’re happy taking the food out of my family’s mouth when CandySwipe clearly existed well before Candy Crush Saga.
I have spent over three years working on this game as an independent app developer. I learned how to code on my own after my mother passed and CandySwipe was my first and most successful game; it’s my livelihood, and you are now attempting to take that away from me. You have taken away the possibility of CandySwipe blossoming into what it has the potential of becoming. I have been quiet, not to exploit the situation, hoping that both sides could agree on a peaceful resolution. However, your move to buy a trademark for the sole purpose of getting away with infringing on the CandySwipe trademark and goodwill just sickens me.
This also contradicts your recent quote by Riccardo in ‘An open letter on intellectual property’ posted on your website which states, ‘We believe in a thriving game development community, and believe that good game developers – both small and large – have every right to protect the hard work they do and the games they create.’
I myself was only trying to protect my hard work.
I wanted to take this moment to write you this letter so that you know who I am. Because I now know exactly what you are. Congratulations on your success!
Sincerely,
Albert Ransom
President (Founder), Runsome Apps Inc.
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