ZeptoLab / Cut the Rope
Candy Crush Saga maker King already abandoned its attempt to trademark the word “candy” in the U.S., but now another major player in mobile gaming wants it to back down in the E.U.
You probably don’t know the company name of the challenger, ZeptoLab. But you may know its Cut the Rope series of games, starring one of mobile’s first merchandised-to-death characters, a candy-hungry green monster named Om Nom. In the game, players swipe their fingers to, well, cut ropes and activate a series of other Rube Goldbergian devices, in the hope of delivering a piece of hard candy to Om Nom’s waiting mouth.
“King.com currently has a trademark registration for ‘candy’ in the European Union that covers video games, video game services, and clothing such as t-shirts,” ZeptoLab said in a press release announcing that it had filed a brief with the E.U. to end the trademark. “To extend this monopoly, King.com is using the registration in Europe as a basis to file trademark applications for ‘candy’ in numerous other countries.”
ZeptoLab is headquartered in Russia, but the formal brief filed with the European Union came from its U.K. office.
Previously, King’s foes in its trademark battles were largely independent developers, with perhaps the most high-profile opposition coming from the International Game Developers Association, an industry group. In an open letter posted online in January, the company said its only goal is to stop others from piggybacking on Candy Crush Saga’s success with games that resemble its own:
We’ve been the subject of no little scorn for our actions on this front, but the truth is that there is nothing very unusual about trademarking a common word for specific uses. Think of “Time,” “Money,” “Fortune,” “Apple” and “Sun”, to name a few. 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 capitalise on our success.
In other words, King thinks games that merely feature candy in different contexts, like Cut the Rope, don’t need to make a fuss. Oh, well.
And one footnote for the cynics: Yes, in addition to putting the spotlight on a notable trademark controversy, this also seems to be a publicity stunt. While Candy Crush Saga has consistently been the No. 1 or 2 top-grossing app on iPhones and iPads for the past 90 days, ZeptoLab’s latest game, Cut the Rope 2, has fizzled since launch, peaking at around No. 28 in December and falling since then to as low as No. 358 on iPhone earlier this month.