King Cries Trademark Over The Banner Saga

from the crush-this dept

We already discussed how, 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 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. 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, 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. 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., 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!

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Comments on “King Cries Trademark Over The Banner Saga”

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MrWilson says:

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…

Matthew Cline (profile) says:

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”.

Torg (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Ben (profile) says:

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 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.

Roland says:

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”.
Apparently Warner felt they owned the word “Casablanca”.
Groucho threatened to countersue over the word “Brothers”.
Apparently stupidity never changes.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Lurker Keith says:

Re: 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.

Ignis (profile) says:

Re: 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:

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…

That One Guy (profile) says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says: 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 a bully or the like suggests to me they are unaware of such proceedings.

Reality Check (profile) says:

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?

Anonymous Coward says:

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!

Josh Taylor says:

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.

Daemon_ZOGG (profile) says:

"King Cries Trademark Over The Banner Saga"

“Saga” “SAGA” “saga” = PRIOR ART. Been there, done that. 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.

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