California - King. com Limited, the company behind 2013's most downloaded mobile app, has made a move to obtain trademark protection over the word "Candy." In an effort to prevent others from riding the wave of success of the enormously popular Candy Crush Saga, King has begun sending cease and desist letters to competing app makers that use the word Candy in the names of their games. The move is being described as a strategic business move by some and an example of Intellectual Property protection going too far by many.
The trademark application was submitted to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) by the British video game maker in February 2013 based on its already granted European Union trademark registration. The application is for the word "Candy" only and covers three classes, from the video game itself to clothing to educational and entertainment services. After months of back and forth with the USPTO, last week King's "Candy" application finally cleared the review process and was approved for publication.
King's decision to trademark such a commonly used word is facing harsh criticism, especially by the app makers who have been told to shut down their apps based on a potential for confusion with King's "Candy" trademark. According to makers of other games that use the word "Candy," King is trying to unfairly monopolize the use of this word in the video game industry.
One of the targeted app makers, Benny Hsu, has expressed frustration at King's ability to reserve the exclusive right to use "Candy", claiming that his "All Candy Casino Slots" game has nothing to do with Candy Crush Saga and that he should not be prevented from using the word in the name of his game. He is one of many faced with the difficult situation of having to come up with names that work around commonly used words protected by trademark. Hsu, for instance, pointed out that he was barred from using the word "Memory" in the name of another app because of an existing trademark for the term. With the accumulation of more trademarks being granted for commonplace words, individuals like Hsu are growing increasingly concerned that they will be stepping on others' toes no matter what words they use to name their games.
Since its release in 2012, Candy Crush Saga has soared in popularity, becoming the most download app of the year in 2013, with an estimated 500 million total downloads. According to records, King logs about 700 million play sessions of the game per day, leading to approximate daily sales of $850,000.