from the sour-grapes dept
King.com and its flagship product, mobile game Candy Crush, have made it onto our pages several times in the past. The most common reason for that is that King appears to enjoy playing trademark bully. Fighting with the folks behind hit game Banner Saga, not to mention picking fights with any other game maker that uses the word “candy” in their titles, have become the norm. Notably, some of the time, when there is a severe public backlash over its antics, King has also shown that it is capable of running away from such disputes.
But if you thought that all of this would mean that King would somehow soften its bullying ways, think again. King recently opposed a trademark application brought by International Fruit Genetics over its application for “Candy Crunch”. What does IFG do, exactly? Well, essentially what it sounds like it does: breeding of fruit variants.
IFG’s focus on breeding table grape varieties to please consumers delivers increased growth and profitability for retailers and growers around the world. With its breadth of exciting flavors and shapes with a full spectrum of colors of grape varieties, IFG is creating a grape sensation for consumers who are discovering that good tasting grapes can be an important part of their nutritional plan.
Okay, so the company makes real life, actual fruit variants. But what is its “Candy Crunch” product? Some mobile game the company is using to promote itself? A smartphone app to help farmers and growers?
No, it’s a grape. A fucking grape.
Trademark Name: Candy Crunch™
Variety Name: IFG Twenty
Harvest: mid to late season black
Cluster size: medium
Berry shape: oval elongated
In case it isn’t obvious to you, IRL fruit and mobile match 3 games are not remotely the same thing or in the same marketplace. There is also absolutely nothing to suggest in any of the website or marketing material for IFG that mentions any connection to the mobile game. And, yet, King apparently believes that its mark is simply so famous that market designations of this sort, or any actual customer confusion, are trumped by such notoriety.
The opposers have contested this because they have been cultivating their “Candy Crush” brand since 2004 with a host of games, computer software and programs, including their flagship, “CANDY CRUSH SAGA.” Furthermore, they have “continuously and extensively,” advertised their games and products, and their trademarks “have developed and represent valuable goodwill inuring to the benefit of Opposers.” The opposers claimed that the proposed Candy Crunch trademark is “confusingly and deceptively similar to Opposers’ previously used and duly registered CANDY CRUSH Marks.”
Because of this, the opposers alleged that the registering of Candy Crunch with the Trademark Office will cause them damages and are “likely to cause confusion, mistake, or deception that Applicant’s good are those of Opposers, or are otherwise endorsed, sponsored, or approved by Opposers for use with Opposers’ goods and services causing further damage to Opposers.” This is because Candy Crush is a well established and famous franchise, according to the notice, and would confuse their consumers if a similarly named product appeared on the market.
And that is absurd. Customers of IFG are fruit farmers looking to license variants for all matter of reasons, such as viability, yield, etc. Now, we could spend some time talking about whether that model should be allowed at all, but that isn’t the purpose of this post. The point is that no fruit farmer is going to go to IFG, see one grape variant called “Candy Crunch”, and somehow think it has anything to do with Candy Crush, the mobile game. That… just isn’t going to happen.
In which case there is no confusion among the public. And there is no competition between the two products. Which means, my friends, there is no valid reason to oppose IFG’s application.