CandySwipe dev: King trademark claim 'taking away my livelihood'

CandySwipe dev: King trademark claim 'taking away my livelihood'
Craig Chapple

By Craig Chapple

February 13th 2014 at 3:50PM

Albert Runsome claims developer copied his own game, CandySwipe, released in 2010

An indie developer has said Candy Crush Saga developer King copied his game CandySwipe and its recent trademark claim against the mobile game will ruin his livelihood.

In an open letter to King, Runsome Apps founder Albert Runsome claimed he had made the original match-three title CandySwipe in 2010 in memory of his mother, who passed away at the age of 62 from leukaemia.

Runsome said he had been battling King's attempts to register its Candy trademark since 2012 for "likelihood of confusion" with his own title, having himself filed for a trademark in 2010.

Since snapping up the right's to the term Candy in relation to games, King is now said to be attempting to cancel the CandySwipe trademark.

He has also claimed that King copied his game with Candy Crush Saga, released two years after CandySwipe, even down to the catchphrase 'Sweet!', as well as further similarities including the game's colour scheme.

A look on the Amazon website confirms that the game was released on Android On December 3rd, 2010.

You can read the full open letter below.

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 warmhearted people like her and to help support my family, wife and two boys 10 and 4.

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 knockoff. 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!

Runsome's claims come after other developers, including Banner Saga developer Stoic, have hit out at King for making trademark claims against the use of words Candy and Saga.

In response to accusations of game cloning and IP trolling, last month King CEO Riccardo Zacconi said the company was just defending its rights "like any responsible company".

"We believe it is right and reasonable to defend ourselves from such copycats," said Zacconi.

"To protect our IP, last year we acquired the trademark in the EU for 'Candy' from a company that was in bankruptcy – and we have filed for a similar trademark in the US. We’ve been the subject of no little scorn for our actions on this front, but the truth is that there is nothing very unusual about trademarking a common word for specific uses. Think of 'Time', 'Money', 'Fortune', 'Apple', and 'Sun', to name a few. We are not trying to control the world’s use of the word 'Candy'; having a trademark doesn’t allow us to do that anyway. We’re just trying to prevent others from creating games that unfairly capitalise on our success."