King's legal action against CandySwipe dev was 'inevitable', says lawyer

Osborne Clarke's Paul Gardner lays down the law

King's legal action against CandySwipe dev was 'inevitable', says lawyer

Candy Crush developer King's legal action against CandySwipestudio Runsome Apps was an "inevitable" move designed to protect the company's IP, says a lawyer familiar with the case.

According to Paul Gardner of Osborne Clarke – one of Europe's leading interactive entertainment law firms – such action is "very common" within the world of trademark disputes.

Speaking to in reference to the open letter published by Runsome's president and founder Albert Ransom, Gardner said it appears the UK studio was simply responding in kind to what appears to have a challenge to its right to use the 'Candy' name.

What's in a name?

"It appears that the owner of the CandySwipe mark was attempting to challenge King's right to use the name Candy, so in a sense this step is simply King fighting back against that challenge," detailed Gardner.

"Given the value of this name, it is inevitable that King has to take whatever steps are necessary to protect its right to use this name.

"This sort of action is very common in a trademark dispute; if someone claims that your use of a name infringes their registered trade mark, then attacking their registration - which can be done in various ways - is one way of defending against that claim."

In his open letter, Ransom claimed he released CandySwipe back in 2010 in memory of his mother, who died of leukaemia five months earlier.

"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," detailed Ransom.

"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."

'Difficult position'

It's Ransom's claim that he's been "quietly battling this trademark opposition for a year" and that King now wants to "cancel my CandySwipe trademark so that I don't have the right to use my own game's name."

"I myself was only trying to protect my hard work," concludes Ransom in the letter. "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."

Gardner believes Ransom now find himself "in a difficult position", something "he appears to recognise this in his open letter to King, which of course starts, 'congratulations, you win'."

However, Ransom's further claim that Candy Crush Saga in fact mimics CandySwipe's app icon, candy pieces, and 'Sweet' tagline is, in Gardner's view, the "more interesting point."

Candy from a baby

"From a distance, the two games look quite similar, so if CandySwipe was published first then at first sight it might appear that Candy Crush Saga has copied CandySwipe," Gardner adds.

"However, the fact that the two games are similar does not on its own mean that Candy Crush Saga is a copy of CandySwipe – King may well have come up with Candy Crush Saga without any reference to CandySwipe or, if it did take anything from CandySwipe, it was just some ideas about the game and copyright does not protect ideas.

Gardner concludes it "would be a difficult claim for Random to pursue", though his open letter has certainly hit King where it hurts.

"From a PR perspective it is particularly unhelpful for King given that it comes so soon after the issue with Pac-Avoid," adds Gardner.

"However, in fairness to King it has said sorry about that incident. More generally, what this illustrates is that ideas are one thing but execution is everything – the idea behind Candy Crush Saga or CandySwipe is hardly new, but King has just done an incredibly good job at execution.

"That is probably the best practical protection that there is in this sector."

Thanks to Paul for his time.

With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.