It’s a dog-eat-dog culture in the world of mobile game developers, and there is no bigger canine out there than King. The British game studio, whose games of of crushing candies and picking cropsies have taken over mobile devices and Facebook, have shown that they aren’t afraid to step on some people’s toes, and Albert Ransom is one of them.
Ransom, of Runsome Apps, is being sued by the Candy Crush Saga powerhouse over his game, CandySwipe, due to their recently filed trademark rights over the word “Candy”. CandySwipe, which also involves making candy matches, was created and dedicated to Ransom’s, who had passed away from leukemia. However the interesting part of this game war is the fact that Ransom launched the game in 2010, two years before King debuted Candy Crush.
Ironically, Ransom also filed for a trademark on CandySwipe before King’s number one game launched. However, because King recently bought the rights to a 2004 game titled Candy Crusher, their rights to “candy” essentially trump the indie developer.
While King says they aren’t trying to wipe out CandySwipe’s particular trademark, they are opposing the fact that Runsome Apps are using the word “candy” in a strikingly similarly structured game.
On the other end, Ransom, who has been losing this David vs. Goliath battle in court since 2013, has now penned a scathing and highly sarcastic open letter to King:
Congratulations! You win! I created my game CandySwipe in memory of my late mother who passed away at an early age of 62 of leukaemia. I released CandySwipe in 2010 five months after she passed and I made it because she always liked these sorts of games. In fact, if you beat the full version of the Android game, you will still get the message saying ‘…the game was made in memory of my mother, Layla…’ I created this game for warm-hearted people like her and to help support my family, wife and two boys 10 and four. Two years after I released CandySwipe, you released Candy Crush Saga on mobile; the app icon, candy pieces, and even the rewarding, ‘Sweet!’ are nearly identical. So much so, that I have hundreds of instances of actual confusion from users who think CandySwipe is Candy Crush Saga, or that CandySwipe is a Candy Crush Saga knock-off. So when you attempted to register your trademark in 2012, I opposed it for ‘likelihood of confusion’ (which is within my legal right) given I filed for my registered trademark back in 2010 (two years before Candy Crush Saga existed). Now, after quietly battling this trademark opposition for a year, I have learned that you now want to cancel my CandySwipe trademark so that I don’t have the right to use my own game’s name. You are able to do this because only within the last month you purchased the rights to a game named Candy Crusher (which is nothing like CandySwipe or even Candy Crush Saga). Good for you, you win. I hope you’re happy taking the food out of my family’s mouth when CandySwipe clearly existed well before Candy Crush Saga.
I have spent over three years working on this game as an independent app developer. I learned how to code on my own after my mother passed and CandySwipe was my first and most successful game; it’s my livelihood, and you are now attempting to take that away from me. You have taken away the possibility of CandySwipe blossoming into what it has the potential of becoming. I have been quiet, not to exploit the situation, hoping that both sides could agree on a peaceful resolution. However, your move to buy a trademark for the sole purpose of getting away with infringing on the CandySwipe trademark and goodwill just sickens me.
This also contradicts your recent quote by Riccardo in ‘An open letter on intellectual property’ posted on your website which states, ‘We believe in a thriving game development community, and believe that good game developers – both small and large – have every right to protect the hard work they do and the games they create.’
I myself was only trying to protect my hard work.
I wanted to take this moment to write you this letter so that you know who I am. Because I now know exactly what you are. Congratulations on your success!
President (Founder), Runsome Apps Inc.
From his reasoning to creating the game to the obvious and glaring ripoff job, it’s hard not to root for the underdog. However, with his sudden bow-out of the the battle, it’s clear to see that King runs the game yard and they are play for keeps.
Tell us what you think! Are King nothing but mobile tyrants or just gaming geniuses?