In an open letter to King, Albert Ransom, independent developer and owner of Runsome Apps Inc., breaks his silence concerning the trademark for his game CandySwipe, which King recently tried to invalidate, despite the fact that the Android game's trademark was filed prior to King's filing for Candy Crush Saga.
In his letter, Ransom points out that he created the match-three game for his mother, who ultimately died from Leukemia at the age of 62. The tribute game predates King's Candy Crush Saga, so Ransom has been quietly opposing King's trademark for Candy Crush Saga. To get around this, Ransom claims that King purchased another game called Candy Crusher, a mobile game released in 2009, to use as a means to cancel Ransom's trademark on CandySwipe.
A filing with the USPTO dated April 9, 2013 in opposition to King's trademark filing validates Ransom's claim (You can read it here) that he has been quietly opposing it for quite some time.
Ransom's reason for writing the open letter was to shine a light on the fact that King does not respect IP owners, and is trying to game the system in order to invalidate Ransom's trademark. The company is doing this by buying an IP that was made in 2004. King bought CandyCrusher, a Blackberry game, from AIM Productions N.V., on January 10, 2014. On January 11 King filed a "Motion to Amend/Amended Answer or Counterclaim" in an attempt to invalidate Ransom's trademark.
If King did purchase Candy Crusher and is using it to invalidate the CandySwipe trademark, then it certainly puts the company on the spot. While attempting to explain away a scandal involving allegations that it cloned a game called Pac-Avoid, the company said that it is "respectful of the rights and IP of other developers" and that it conducts a "thorough search of other games in the marketplace, as well as a review of trademark filings, to ensure that" it is not "infringing anyone else’s IP."
You can read Ransom's open letter in its entirety, below.
Open letter to King.com who wants to cancel the registration of the CandySwipe trademark.
Dear 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 leukemia. 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!
President (Founder), Runsome Apps Inc.