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Candy Crush Saga app developer trademarks the word 'candy'

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si_candycrushsaga.jpgDevelopers of the wildly popular mobile game Candy Crush Saga aren't too sweet on the idea of anyone else using the word "candy" to sell a product, it seems.

Interactive entertainment company King.com has successfully trademarked the word "candy" as it pertains to apps, video games, computer software, clothing, e-books, and even baby monitors, according to its U.S. federal trademark registration.

The trademark request, first filed Feb. 6, 2013, was quietly approved for publication last week by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Competitors have a 30-day window to oppose the trademark according to the USPTO, but King has already cracked down on at least one developer.

Benjamin Hsu is the maker of an iOS game called All Candy Casino Slots - Jewel Craze Connect: Big Blast Mania Land.

He told VentureBeat's GamesBeat that King recently filed an app store notice against his game, asking Apple to remove it from the iOS store.

"We are the owners of 'candy' in the E.U., U.S., and elsewhere," reads the notice Hsu received from the iTunes legal department. "The prominent use of our mark by [Benjamin Hsu] infringes our rights and is likely to lead to consumer confusion and damage to our brand. Please remove this app as soon as possible."

Hsu, contending that his virtual slot game bears no resemblance to Candy Crush Saga, reached out to King in an effort to resolve the problem without getting lawyers involved.

He received the following message from one of King's IP paralegals, Sophie Hallstrom:

"Your use of 'Candy Slots' in your app icon uses our 'candy' trademark exactly, for identical goods, which amounts to trademark infringement and is likely to lead to consumer confusion and damage to our brand. The addition of only the descriptive term 'slots' does not lessen the likelihood of confusion."

If Hsu does not comply with any King's request to remove his app, the studio could choose to take him to court.

"It's useless to fight because us little developers don't have the money or resources to fight back," Hsu said to GamesBeat. "From the other app developers I've spoken with on Facebook and Twitter, they all feel the same way."

Dozens of puzzle games with the word "candy" in them still appear in Apple's app store, but the company itself has said it won't go after companies that use the word legitimately.

Hsu's game, which makes use of keywords from several top-grossing games, does not meet King's criteria.

"The particular app in this instance was called 'Candy Casino Slots - Jewels Craze Connect: Big Blast Mania Land', but its icon in the app store just says 'Candy Slots,' focusing heavily on our trademark," said a King spokesperson to Games Industry.

"As well as infringing our and other developer's IP, use of keywords like this as an app name is also a clear breach of Apple's terms of use. We believe this app name was a a calculated attempt to use other companies' IP to enhance its own games, through means such as search rankings."

What are your thoughts? Should common words like "candy" fall under trademark protection? Weigh in below.

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