King Cries Trademark Over The Banner Saga

from the crush-this dept

We already discussed how King.com, makers of the massively popular Candy Crush Saga mobile game, have applied for a trademark on the word "candy" and have begun sending out the threat letters. Well, because one generic turn deserves another, the game developer did likewise with the word "saga", another term that a simple search of the Android market reveals is generic and widespread. But that hasn't stopped King.com from going after all those "saga" pilferers out there, heroically attempting to keep customers from being confused.

Like those that might confuse Candy Crush Saga, a game in which you slap fruit around for no apparent reason, and The Banner Saga, which is a turn-based strategy game with heavy role-playing elements that might as well have been designed with the goal of being as unlike Candy Crush as possible. King.com is filing an opposition to a trademark request by Stoic, LLC, makers of The Banner Saga, who have applied for the actually sensible trademark on the entire name of their game. That opposition alleges, amongst other things, that the word "saga" and the name The Banner Saga are "deceptively similar" and will cause consumers to "believe that Applicant's goods originate from the Opposer, resulting in a likelihood of confusion."

That, my friends, is a special level of bullshit. To take the application of one generic term and claim deception by producers who actually make a game with a unique title would be akin to Major League Baseball seeking to keep little league baseball from using the name of the sport because someone might confuse the two enterprises. It ain't gonna happen.

And guess who knows it isn't going to happen? Why, the folks from King.com, of course.

"We do not have any concerns that Banner Saga is trying build on our brand or our content," a spokesperson for King, the makers of Candy Crush Saga, told Kotaku. "However, like any prudent company, we need to take all appropriate steps to protect our IP, both now and in the future."
Ah, the grand old trademark Nuremberg Defense: it's not our fault we're acting this way, trademark law made us do it. Except, of course, that isn't true. There are a myriad of ways in which to wade these waters and come to an agreement that don't involve sending out threat letters to innocent content producers. Those ways probably don't even need to come into play, however, in a case where the trademark on a single generic word never should have been granted and the overlap in the market between the two marks is so thin all the other trademark disputes are worried it might have anorexia.

The folks from Stoic, fortunately, are refusing to back down.
Two years ago, the three of us at Stoic set out to make an epic viking game: The Banner Saga. We did, and people loved it, so we're making another one. We won't make a viking saga without the word Saga, and we don't appreciate anyone telling us we can't. King.com claims they're not attempting to prevent us from using The Banner Saga, and yet their legal opposition to our trademark filing remains. We're humbled by the outpouring of support and honored to have others stand with us for the right to their own Saga. We just want to make great games.
That kind of sentiment is going to gain them a great deal of goodwill. King.com, on the other hand, having tried to associate their generic trademarks with a quality and enjoyable product, are instead associating their company name with legal yahoo-ism and attempts to shut down other people's fun. Way to think this through, guys!



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    S. T. Stone, Jan 24th, 2014 @ 7:04pm

    Considering the recent allegations against King.com of cloning another developer's game, I don't think King.com's troubles will end any time soon.

    Ah, how the temporarily mighty will fall…

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2014 @ 7:54pm

    King is totally correct in doing this, as I am an idiot who cannot differentiate between vikings and little pieces of candy. They are just so dang similar.

    Oh, and inb4 ootb blames google.

     

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  3.  
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    MrWilson, Jan 24th, 2014 @ 7:56pm

    The Banner Saga isn't even available on a mobile device. Where's the possibility of confusion?

    If you search for "The Banner Saga" in the Play Store, you get results for Candy Crush Saga, not the other way around.

    And even if The Banner Saga were available on a mobile device, every damn app/game on the Play Store lists first the name of the app/game and then the name of the company/person who released it. It's so hard to read the name of the company/person below the title of the app/game. This will definitely cause confusion as to who released the games...

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2014 @ 7:58pm

    Just waiting for real candy companies to come after king. So who is going to trademark crush.

     

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  5.  
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    Matthew Cline (profile), Jan 24th, 2014 @ 8:40pm

    Ah, the grand old trademark Nuremberg Defense: it's not our fault we're acting this way, trademark law made us do it. ... There are a myriad of ways in which to wade these waters and come to an agreement that don't involve sending out threat letters to innocent content producers.
    IANAL, but my understanding of trademark law is that a company can lose their trademark if they don't take steps to enforce it. Thus some companies think it's prudent to establish a paper trail of enforcement efforts by sending out threat letters to anyone who even looks at their trademark funny. This way if there ever is a case of someone actually violating their trademark, and the defendant claims that they didn't bother to enforce their trademark, they can reply "no, we did take steps to enforce our trademark, look at these gazillion and one frivolous threat letters we sent out to everyone and their dog".

     

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  6.  
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    Ben (profile), Jan 24th, 2014 @ 8:45pm

    Crush them with Candy! Think of the Saga!

    It appears to me the only reasonable action is to launch a Kickstarter campaign to purchase as much candy as possible and have it dumped on the offices of King.com such that it crushes them. Bonus levels of funding would include making the candy and the experience of crushing them be as similar to the events in Candy Crush Saga as possible.

    Of course, the entire project, culminating in the delivery/crush would be filmed, producing the Candy Crush Saga Saga.

     

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  7.  
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    Roland, Jan 24th, 2014 @ 8:45pm

    just like old times

    This reminds me of another trademark threat from long ago. Warner Bros. threatened the Marx Bros. over the name of the movie "A Night in Casablanca".
    https://www.chillingeffects.org/resource.cgi?ResourceID=31
    Apparently Warner felt they owned the word "Casablanca".
    Groucho threatened to countersue over the word "Brothers".
    Apparently stupidity never changes.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2014 @ 8:51pm

    So they've been using "Saga" in games since November 2011?

    Let me just search for "saga" games published before then, on ONE games site...

    Marshmallow Saga, Space Saga, Black Star Saga, Summoner Saga (chapters 1-3), Robot Saga: Escape, Ion Frenzy 2 - Black Saga, Hoshi Saga 1, 2, and 3, Hoshi Saga Ringo, and more.

    Looks like they aren't the first to use "Saga". And it's not even close; some of these games were published in 2008. Looks like they aren't even the first to use "Saga" as part of a SERIES. Honestly, if they want to argue that their trademark conflicts with anything that has "Saga" in it, then it is THEIR trademark which should be denied.

     

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  9.  
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    TKnarr (profile), Jan 24th, 2014 @ 8:52pm

    Re:

    Yes, and those companies are wrong. You have to take reasonable steps to protect your trademark, but one of those reasonable steps can be to evaluate the usage and determine that it isn't confusingly similar to your trademark and thus doesn't warrant any action at this time.

    I'm waiting for King to step into an Apple trap.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2014 @ 9:39pm

    If someone said the word "saga" to me, the first game I'd think of would be The 7th Saga, the notoriously difficult SNES RPG from 1993.
    Frankly, I think that whoever granted King.com a trademark on the word "saga" should have their head examined.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2014 @ 9:44pm

    What King is doing is good.

    They're going to single-handedly fix our fucked up trademark system.

    Thanks King

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 24th, 2014 @ 11:42pm

    http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2014/01/24

    Penny Arcade has weighed in on the subject.

     

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  13.  
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    That One Guy (profile), Jan 25th, 2014 @ 3:19am

    A little of column A, a little of column B...

    While King is certainly ultimately responsible for acting like a little thug, threatening companies for using generic words, it would seem that there is plenty of blame that can be laid at the feet of the trademark office, for being so stupid to okay their trademark submissions, submissions on generic, descriptive words, words that have been in use in business for centuries, and yet, suddenly, are considered unique enough to warrant a trademark on by those idiots in the trademark office.

     

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  14.  
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    Kiss my CANDY CRUSH SAGA ARSE, Jan 25th, 2014 @ 3:59am

    What a bunch of idiotic tossers these people are.
    The human race is definitely the most stupid animal on the planet, especially the American and British tribes.
    People's lives are so vacuous

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2014 @ 5:04am

    The King's Speech

    Aside from the generic trademark circus, I think there's more at work here. King is busying itself for IPO, right? Candy Crush Saga is riding high, but the market is fully aware (thanks, Zynga!) that unprecedented spikes of success are terrible indicators of future performance. So it needs something to puff its chest (and prospective share price) with, and getting Candy shored up into the merchandise world would look rosy, especially as King could intimate that it's about to mimic the trajectory of Angry Birds.

    When you've built yourself on a market where a *lack* of trademark enforcement is the primary facilitator, and you suddenly forget the fact, then I get a bit worried, frankly.

     

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  16.  
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    Torg (profile), Jan 25th, 2014 @ 5:39am

    Re:

    My understanding is that it's not quite that straightforward. You lose your trademark if it enters general usage as a generic term that doesn't specifically apply to your product, like zipper and thermos. This can happen if you don't enforce your trademark, and nonenforcement can be used as evidence that you know that your trademarked term is generic.

    "Saga" is already a generic term, and has been since at least the thirteenth century. The trademark for it will last until someone with sufficient funds decides to challenge it regardless of whether or not King tries enforcing it now.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2014 @ 6:43am

    "an agreement that don't"

    Shouldn't that be "an agreement that doesn't"?

     

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  18.  
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    Lurker Keith, Jan 25th, 2014 @ 6:55am

    Re:

    I did a similar search (Googled "Nintendo Saga") before reading the comments. Saga in games goes even further back. & hits a big company.

    Ever hear of LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga? (didn't need the search for this one)

    I found a SNES game (7th Saga) as well as a GBA game (Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga) w/ Saga in the title.

    & I only bothered checking the 1st 4 pages (LEGO Star Wars came up a lot).

    Whoever allowed King to Trademark just Saga needs to be fired.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
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    Lurker Keith, Jan 25th, 2014 @ 6:59am

    Re:

    & I should've read the next comment down before commenting.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2014 @ 7:37am

    King.com has NOT registered a trademark in the US for the word "saga". Instead, it has registered a slew of trademarks associated in part with games that include the word mark in the trademark (e.g., Mahjong Saga, Banner Sage, Candy Crush Saga, etc., etc., etc.).

    Stoic LLC want to secure a registration for the "Banner Saga" as a trademark for use in conjunction with a game.

    Importantly, this is an opposition proceeding, a common proceeding associated with parties that seek formal registration of marks by the USPTO. No one is suing anybody, so for people to call King.com a bully or the like suggests to me they are unaware of such proceedings.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
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    Reality Check (profile), Jan 25th, 2014 @ 7:48am

    I see their point....

    Because until I carefully read this article, I didn't realize that the game had the words 'candy crush' in the title.

    Everyone I know, just calls it 'Saga', as in:
    "Can you stop sending me those damn Saga invites!" and
    "Why the hell are all these people playing that dumb Saga game" and
    "You play Saga? but you look so smart!"

    But now I find out that it is called Candy Crush Saga. I wonder if there would be less confusion if they could just get people to simply call it Candy Crush?

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2014 @ 7:53am

    Is it pronounced Saw-ga or say-ga or Sea-ga? If it's Sea-ga then that sounds deceptively similar to Seagull and that's a bird. Are they trying to equate this to angry birds? Isn't Sega already taken?...I thought this was about candy.

    This is confusing me...perhaps if they could get a patent for a computerized method of throwing candy at birds. Then I think I would be more or less as confused as I am now.

    I don't know how hey expect people to figure this stuff out!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2014 @ 7:53am

    They might have a trademark problem with the word King.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2014 @ 10:30am

    Re: Re:

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
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    Aaron Wolf (profile), Jan 25th, 2014 @ 11:58am

    Sounds like a bunch of lawyers cheating everyone

    This sounds like some lawyers figuring out bullshit things to do to get the company to pay them.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2014 @ 2:49pm

    Re:

    Correction: King.com does have a registration for the mark "Saga" for a specific class of products, namely on-line computer games. No other changes are believed to be necessary.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Josh Taylor, Jan 25th, 2014 @ 2:56pm

    Feds, Stop giving the use of exclusive language to corporations. Some of us use it in communication.

    Governments allowing corporations to trademark every word in the dictionary will take away our freedom to communicate.

    The Supreme Court needs to look at this issue whether trademarking common words in the dictionary violates the First Amendment.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
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    Kronomex, Jan 25th, 2014 @ 3:29pm

    Why don't they just buy a dictionary and start trademarking every word between the front and back covers. Morons!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 25th, 2014 @ 5:11pm

    Re:

    They're gonna troll Coca Cola?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
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    allengarvin (profile), Jan 25th, 2014 @ 6:49pm

    "would be akin to Major League Baseball seeking to keep little league baseball from using the name of the sport because someone might confuse the two enterprises."

    Not quite--both have baseball in common, which are fundamentally the same thing, the same game. It's more like Major League Baseball going after the League of Women Voters.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
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    Ignis (profile), Jan 25th, 2014 @ 7:23pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    With regards to Romancing SaGa, actually the entire SaGa/Final Fantasy Legend series dates back even further to 1989... and 1990 had the first game primarily titled as "SaGa" released: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SaGa_%28series%29

    Funny, just a few days ago I was playing the DS remake of SaGa 2. "Ridiculous" is the first word that came to mind to see King doubling down by trying to trademark not just "candy" but also "saga" now. It's not like classical RPGs have been around for three decades...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
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    Daemon_ZOGG, Jan 26th, 2014 @ 12:48am

    "King Cries Trademark Over The Banner Saga"

    "Saga" "SAGA" "saga" = PRIOR ART. Been there, done that. king.com is sounding a lot like that those trolls over at Monster Cable in 2004. When they tried to sue Monster energy drink for the use of "Monster" in fear that consumers wouldn't be able to tell the difference between energy drinks and audio cables. If they really wanted to just protect their product name they would have trademarked "Candy Crush Saga" as a phrase. Not individually. Look out folks! When the legal department doubles as the management staff, a new TROLL is in town.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
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    Mega1987 (profile), Jan 26th, 2014 @ 6:11am

    word copyright?

    jeez...

    King.com is expecting to be paid with someone used the word "candy"... even in an casual conversation?

    I think the kids will be very angry or sad that they can't buy candy from a candy store without paying King.com....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
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    Mary Ann Ludwig, Jan 26th, 2014 @ 8:19am

    Re: Candy Crush Trademark

    It is my understanding that they don't actually have a trademark, but are trying to trademark the word "Candy". Pretty hard to enforce a trademark that you don't actually have.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
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    Geno0wl (profile), Jan 27th, 2014 @ 7:08am

    Re: Sounds like a bunch of lawyers cheating everyone

    Came in to basically say this

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
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    kitsune361, Jan 27th, 2014 @ 11:00am

    Re:

    I'm waiting for Hasbro to come after them because of "Candy Land".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
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    Andrew Ragland, Feb 28th, 2014 @ 9:14am

    Saga is too widely used

    The word "Saga" is too widely used and has too much previous art to copyright or trademark it now. I know a large number of rolegaming companies that would join with amicus briefs. For that matter, Marvel and DC Comics both use the word "Saga" in some of their titles. Let's see King.com take on Marvel/Disney.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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