Junkyard Sam

King.com, Makers of Candy Crush Saga… Trademark trolls with a double standard?

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King.com (makers of Candy Crush Saga) recently trademarked the word “Candy” and are now using their legal & financial power against smaller competing companies:

Candy Crush Saga developer trademarks ‘candy’ (Polygon.com)
Candy Crush owner King.com wins trademark, immediately starts sending takedowns (Geek.com)

It’s ironic that King.com is concerned about intellectual property when they so blatantly copied our game Scamperghost with their game “Pac-Avoid” in late 2009. In fact, using “Pac” from Namco’s Pac-Man is exactly the same thing they’re trying to stop people from doing with their “Candy” trademark!

Compare our games below. Full story after the images:

 

* You can play Scamperghost at MaxGames.com, but Pac-Avoid has since been removed by King after this article went viral.

HOW IT HAPPENED / PROOF

We were in talks with Lars Jörnow at King.com to license our Scamperghost game. Before the deal was closed (and certainly before any contracts were signed) MaxGames.com made a better offer so we thanked King for considering our game and politely ended our negotiations.

King.com (giant company) retaliated against us (two young indie devs) by quickly making a direct clone of our game and almost released it before us! We only got ours out sooner because a friend close with the company contacted us privately to warn us in advance…

Some fellow Flash game developers were pretty outraged at the IndieGamer.com forum. King.com eventually emailed us:

 

from: Lars Jörnow <larsj@king.com>
date: Fri, Feb 12, 2010 at 11:43 AM
subject: IndieGamer Forum post
mailed-by: king.com

We wanted to sponsor Scamper Ghost since it’s a great game and since we were actively looking for an avoider game at the time. The flash world is filled of similar-looking games, and there are probably hundreds of avoider-games with similar menus, a box with enemies, and coins - and we thought Scamper Ghost was awesome.

Scamper Ghost is a great game. We’re sorry our deal didn’t turn out with you guys - you made out with more money and we were left without an avoider game that we had already planned on. We needed an avoider game and sponsored a similar game.

- Lars

 

But it was worse than just “sponsorship of a similar game.” We tracked down the developer that made Pac-Avoid and it turns out they were contacted by King.com to clone the game!

 

from: Porter porter@epicshadow.com
date: Mon, Jun 21, 2010 at 9:25 PM
subject: Pac Avoid / Scamper Ghost

First off, sorry that we (Andrew and I of EpicShadow) cloned your game for Lars of King.com. I know there’s a ton of rumor as to what happened, so here’s the exact details, you believing them is your decision. Lars approached us one day explaining that you (Stolen Goose) had signed a contract, had been working with him on finishing the deal, and then got a better deal and backed out. As tempting as more cash would be, if contract was signed, douche move. I don’t know if that actually happened, so feel free to clear it up. He asked us to clone the game very quickly, and even wanted to beat the release of the original game.
 

No “contract” was ever signed, this was Lars/King justifying their actions to a small indie developer that might otherwise have turned down the request to copy our game.

Scamperghost isn’t the most original game in the world. It’s obviously inspired by Pac-Man but we at least took it in an original direction by making it a mouse avoider with no walls.

King.com, however, showed no respect for other people’s intellectual property when they made a direct, blatant clone of Scamperghost. Now they’ve trademarked “Candy” and are using their massive legal power against other small competing developers. A bit of a double-standard, eh?

UPDATE #1:

Wow, pretty much all gaming news covered this story, and even some outside of games like Business Insider & Forbes. Thanks, everyone. Now that this is all winding down, here’s how it wrapped up:

King Denies Cloning Games (but) Takes Down Pac-Avoid (Polygon.com)
King Shuts Down Pac-Avoid In Wake of Cloning Accusations (Gamasutra)
“Candy Crush Saga” Maker Takes Down Game It Claims Isn’t A Clone(Forbes.com)

MORE ARTICLES

King’s copies documented on YouTube’s NerdAlert channel! (YouTube)
Candy Crush maker King accused of deliberately cloning game “Scamperghost” (SlashGear)
Candy trademark owner King.com accused of cloning indie game Scamperghost (Geek.com)
King.com Admits It Never Should’ve Published A Game It Allegedly Plagiarized (Business Insider)
Indie dev claims Candy Crush studio stole its game (GameSpot)
How Do You Think About ‘Candy’ Trademark Owner King Cloning Scamperghost? (2p.com)