King defends aggressive trademark actions in open letter

King has posted an open letter about its decision to trademark words like "candy" and "saga," preventing other developers from using them in the titles for their games.

That list includes Stoic, the creators of the recent Viking role-playing game The Banner Saga.

"At its simplest, our policy is to protect our IP and to also respect the IP of others," wrote Riccardo Zacconi, the CEO of King, the publisher of games like mobile's Candy Crush Saga.

King admitted guilt over publishing (but not over commissioning) Pac-Avoid, a clone of another developer's game, ScamperGhost — an act that's being viewed as hypocritical and a double standard. "The details of the situation are complex, but the bottom line is that we should never have published Pac-Avoid," wrote Zacconi. "We have taken the game down from our site, and we apologize for having published it in the first place.

"Let me be clear: This unfortunate situation is an exception to the rule. King does not clone games, and we do not want anyone cloning our games."

King's main concern is protecting itself from copycats. "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 capitalize on our success."

Zacconi said that the word "saga" is key to its brands; players associate it with King's line of games: Candy Crush Saga, Bubble Witch Saga, Pet Rescue Saga, and so on.

"We’re not trying to stop Stoic from using the word 'Saga,' but we had to oppose their application to preserve our own ability to protect our own games," he wrote. "Otherwise, it would be much easier for future copycats to argue that use of the word 'Saga,' when related to games, was fair play."