Candy Crush Saga trademarks spark controversy over similar game that launched 2 years prior


King CEO

King CEO Riccardo Zacconi

Before there was Flappy Bird, your friends and family were jonsing for another fix of Candy Crush Saga. Staying true to their name, there’s been a bit of a saga unfolding around Candy Crush developer King, and their alleged wrongdoings now being brought to light.

Which came first, the Candy or the Swipe?

King has been on a bit of trademarking spree as of late, in a move the developer claims is an effort at protecting their IP. Makes sense, Candy Crush Saga is a great game and there’s no shortage of copy-cat games following any title’s new found success. But did you know there was a game strikingly similar to Candy Crush that was actually released 4 months prior (and 2 years before it hit app stores)? The game is called CandySwipe.

Created by Albert Ransom of Runsome Apps, CandySwipe launched in the Android Market back in November of 2010. Like any smart businessman, Ransom had the foresight to trademark the its name. Fast forward a few months when Ransom noticed King attempting to trademark “Candy Crush Saga,” in which he promptly filed an opposition. Was he upset that Candy Crush featured similar match-3 gameplay? Not exactly. What about Candy Crush’s icons, which happened to mirror closely the confections found in CandySwipe? Sorta. But Ransom says with good reason…

CandySwipe vs Candy Crush Saga icons

Ransom claims, shortly after Candy Crush Saga began climbing the charts, CandySwipe began receiving multiple 1-star reviews from users claiming his title — which launched first — was a mere Candy Crush rip-off. Jumping onto Twitter, Ransom noticed tweets, once again, from ignorant users claiming CandySwipe was a Candy Crush copy-cat, not the other way around. That’s enough to get under anyone’s skin. But it was more than that for Ransom. As a small time developer, he claimed his entire livelihood was at stake. Here’s an example of the confusion caused after Candy Crush blew up.

It wasn’t until King would later file for a trademark on the word “Candy” that the Candy Crush owner began receiving some backlash. In an open letter, King’s CEO Riccardo Zacconi attempted to set the record straight, mentioning that this was done in Candy Crush’s defense, and that they had no intentions of going after every game using the word “Candy” — only those that looked encroached on their IP. He also maintained that King doesn’t clone games, and they wouldn’t want anyone cloning theirs. Fair enough.

But just like he did with “Candy Crush Saga,” CandySwipe’s developer said he had full plans to oppose King’s latest attempt to trademark “Candy” as well, and it was in his right to do so. This public call to arms sent King looking for additional ammo, and it seems they found it.

King makes a power move

After battling the original “Candy Crush Saga” trademark for over a year, CandySwipe’s developer Albert Ransom is now finally ready to admit defeat. This is after King strategically managed to buy a trademark predating that of “CandySwipe” from another company. The trademark in question? Candy Crusher. Ouch.

To be fair, Candy Crusher is a much different game from CandySwipe/Candy Crush Saga and it’s still unclear if King is now using this newly acquired trademark to oppose the CandySwipe’s, or if they simply intended on using it as leverage for when Ransom inevitably opposes their “Candy” trademark filing. One thing is clear, CandySwipe’s developer is not happy about King’s latest move, expressing his disapproval in a heartfelt open letter on his site. A real life Candy Crush saga? Who would have thought?

Mobile gamers have already begun choosing sides and, in an effort to help boost CandySwipe’s recognition, are downloading the game and leaving raving 5-star reviews for CandySwipe on the Google Play Store. If you feel like helping the underdog, download link provided below.

Download on Google Play: CandySwipe 2.0

[via Gamezebo]

Chris Chavez
I've been obsessed with consumer technology for about as long as I can remember, be it video games, photography, or mobile devices. If you can plug it in, I have to own it. Preparing for the day when Android finally becomes self-aware and I get to welcome our new robot overlords.

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  1. WTF parallel universe did I just fall into. Bejeweled existed in the other universe I came from before this one, over a decade ago.

    1. CandySwipe actually plays differently than Bejewled (you can go diagonal). Also, the problem is in relation to the game’s theme and name, which is causing confusing and headache for the original creator.

      1. That’s just an evolution, not a new creation. Original Creator, really? Bejeweled had its ripoff names too. This whole thing is beyond insanity. WTFing F. But I’m just visiting this brane, on to the next one.

    2. I thought the same thing

  2. I feel like leaving my Crush addiction for the underdog. Time to give it a download

    1. Not even gonna lie, Candy Crush is a much better game. They have far more funding at their disposal to create better graphics, gameplay, social integration, and in-app purchases. Even if they arguably took CandySwipe’s idea and ran with it, they ran with it for miles.

      1. I agree Chris. I gave it a download to give support but it reminds me a lot more of a bejeweled type game and some others that are easily found in multiple app stores. It seems I have no escape from my addiction.

      2. I was going to install CandySwipe, but then saw the long list of unnecessary permissions they are asking for. No way.

      3. You are absolutely right, they did make a better game and they are the “king” of match games on Play and iTunes. BUT they don’t have to be douchy about it. Copyrighting a game title “Candy” was an insanely crappy move IMO as it shows their intention to monopolize this game type.

        If Crappy Bird dev was making 50K a day for ads you can imagine how much they are making from in-app purchases.They are likely bringing home millions of $ a month, but i guess it’s never enough when money is concerned. It is a dog eat dog world, so maybe what they are doing are
        acceptable business tactics but boy does it look evil and wrong from the
        public perspective.

        Instead of using patents and lawyers to strong arm small indie dev studios, they should concentrate on their own game. In my opinion when it comes to software development (I am myself a dev) better polished app always trumps any cloned apps.

        1. So true. It’s completely contrary to the open letter King released.

      4. yeah. lots of in app purchases. Had to shut the wife down on the candy crush after $180 credit card bill.

  3. About to download the bejeweled rip off, candy crush saga, to leave a 1 star review and promptly delete it. Nothing I hate more than patent trolls

    1. Yea seriously, people are all ranting and raving about Candy Crush and how awesome it was and I was thinking “Have you never played Bejeweled like 3-5+ years ago?”

      1. Bejeweled goes 10+ years back.

    2. Just downloaded to promptly give it 1 star. Wish I could give it half a star

  4. Apple needs to the king team asap.

  5. Mobile game development is monopolized by dirtbags like King. People need to quit supporting these developers before we don’t have any better options.

  6. I thought Candy Crush sucked balls before, now I’d like to add ‘unwashed’.

  7. Dragon Academy is better. A lot more polished match 3 game.

  8. I still think it’s absolutely ridiculous that you can trademark a generic word like “candy”. I could see trademarking “Candy Crush” or “Candy Crush Saga”, but one word? Seriously?

    1. Remember that trademarks (usually) only apply to a specific context, ie mobile games. If they get this trademark, that still can’t use it against companies outside of mobile gaming. That said, given the number of existing mobile games with the word “Candy” in them, they should not get this trademark, but USPTO isn’t exactly known for making the right decisions when granting trademarks (or patents).

      1. But still, it’s pretty dumb.

        1. Not necessarily, in some cases it’s sensible. King’s open letter gives the examples of “Time” and “Fortune” being trademarked for magazines, I don’t have any problem with those. But KIng trademarking just “candy” isn’t okay, their game isn’t called just “Candy” and there are many other games with the word candy in them.

  9. King sucks!!!

  10. giving some thought to dropping Candy Crush….

  11. lol wtf how is this even legally possible? this guy needs to be shot

  12. Wonderful. Intent and spirit of the law apparently makes no difference to judges now; they just make awards to whoever is the biggest and can demonstrate some kind of technicality that gives them the strategic advantage.

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