We’ve all heard the stories, read the headlines, or were at least told by someone about the recent heat that King has been getting due to their trademark of the word “Candy”. Now, the CEO of King has published an open letter in which he addresses the handling of trademarks within the company and allegations of cloning another competing game.
King has already been in the news after they were granted a trademark for the word “candy” in Europe and are now seeking to also claim the trademark in the United States as well, resulting in a number of developers being asked to change the name of their products. One company affected by King’s trademark drama is Stoic Studio, the makers of The Banner Saga. King is opposing Stoic’s attempts to file a trademark on “Banner Saga,” citing intellectual property right laws around King’s own line of games with “Saga” in their name. King has said they are not trying to stop Stoic from using the Banner Saga name, they are just merely doing what they must to protect their own trademarks.
In the new open letter published by King, CEO Riccardo Zacconi addresses the company’s handling of trademarks and intellectual property.
After news of King’s aggressive moves to protect its trademarks, Matthew Cox, the developer of a game called Scamperghost, alleged that in 2009 King hired a developer to clone a game of his that King was set to publish. Cox went on to point out similarities between the two games. Cox also shared what he claims is an e-mail from the developer of the game that states that King specifically asked him to copy Scamperghost.
Zacconi would not address the allegations, instead saying that, though Pac-Avoid and Scamperghost were similar, it was a game that King had developed externally five years ago. He did admit that the game “strongly resembles” Scamperghost before going on to say
The details of the situation are complex, but the bottom line is that we should never have published Pac-Avoid. We have taken the game down from our site, and we apologise for having published it in the first place. Let me be clear: This unfortunate situation is an exception to the rule. King does not clone games, and we do not want anyone cloning our games
Is seems clear that the backlash of the gaming community has caused King to finally come out and address the elephant in the room, and it seems as though it could be too late. Power plays on trademarks and intellectual property have put a harsh light on King and may be one that they can not recover from.