The Copyright Saga

King, owners of the immensely popular Candy Crush Saga issued a statement defending their action to file opposition against Stoic studio’s attempt to trademark ‘The Banner Saga‘ – the title for their game. This comes after the news that King have been granted trademark for the word Candy- and have their eyes set upon Saga too.

It is somewhat ironic perhaps that the dictionary definition of saga- ‘a long story of heroic achievement, especially a medieval prose narrative in Old Norse or Old Icelandic’ applies more directly to a game about a Vikings than one about swishing candies around and aggressive in-app purchases.

King’s response to the issue has given mixed messages. In their following statement, they assert that they do not have concerns that Banner Saga is trying to ride the coat-tails of the similarly named Candy Crush Saga:

King has not and is not trying to stop Banner Saga from using its name. We do not have any concerns that Banner Saga is trying build on our brand or our content. However, like any prudent company, we need to take all appropriate steps to protect our IP, both now and in the future. In this case, that means preserving our ability to enforce our rights in cases where other developers may try to use the Saga mark in a way which infringes our IP rights and causes player confusion. If we had not opposed Banner Saga’s trade mark application, it would be much easier for real copy cats to argue that their use of “Saga” was legitimate. This is an important issue for King because we already have a series of games where “Saga” is key to the brand which our players associate with a King game; Candy Crush Saga, Bubble Witch Saga, Pet Rescue Saga, Farm Heroes Saga and so on. All of these titles have already faced substantive trademark and copyright issues with clones.”

However, this seems to be in direct conflict with their Notice of Opposition. The whole thing is a bit of a mess to say the least. For full details, check out the rock, paper, shotgun article which covers the issue in much more depth than I.

Copyright and trademarks are treacherous waters to navigate. When companies can trademark colours, simple words and everything in between, it can be a minefield for smaller Indie devs, to not tread on the wrong toes, so to speak, is tricky indeed.

Lamentable as the situation is, often money talks and big businesses can afford the legal wrangling necessary to go after and attain their goals. The law, is, after all, the law.

In response, a new Indie Game Jam has been set up to promote the issue and show their support. The Candy Jam will run until Feb 3rd.

Oh what tangled webs we weave.

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