King, the developer of the ultra-addictive "Candy Crush Saga" video game, has registered for the U.S. trademark of the word "candy." King, which contends it possesses the trademark in Europe, is enforcing it against a few games that also use the word in their names.
The British game developer reportedly applied for the trademark a year ago. This month, it was "approved for publication," meaning the public has 30 days to oppose King's registration of the trademark. If it is not opposed or if any opposition fails, King's application for the trademark proceeds to the next step.
The trademark was brought to light after a game developer complained to GameZebo, a video game blog, that King had asked it to remove its app from the Apple App Store or prove his game does not infringe on the "candy" trademark, which it does not yet possess in the U.S.
"It’s dumb that King.com LTD can trademark a common word,” said Benny Hsu, the developer in question, who also spoke with Forbes. Hsu's game is called "All Candy Casino Slots -- Jewel Craze Connect: Big Blast Mania Lan" but his app icon simply says "Candy Slots."
So far only a handful of games appear to have been contacted, and King has told Forbes that it plans to enforce its trademark only against clear copycats -- not every game that uses the word "candy."
"We don’t enforce against all uses of 'candy' -- some are legitimate and of course, we would not ask app developers who use the term legitimately to stop doing so," King said, according to Forbes.
Developers, though, are still troubled that a game giant like King can trademark a word as common as "candy."
To test how far King will go to enforce its trademark, a couple of developers have launched a Tumblr blog called Candy Jam that is encouraging others to create games themed around candy.
[For the record, 3:59 p.m. Jan. 21: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said that King has received the U.S. trademark for the word "candy." King is still in the process of obtaining that trademark.]