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Friday, January 31, 2014, 10:06 am PT (01:06 pm ET)

Developers protest Candy Crush maker's 'candy' trademark with hackathon

Independent game developers are fighting back against Candy Crush Saga developer King's attempt to prevent other companies from using the words "candy" or "saga" in any game-related context by releasing a flurry of candy-themed games.

Candy Jam


Independent game distributor itch.io organized the event, called Candy Jam, as a sort of peaceful protest against King following news that the company was asserting trademarks covering the words "candy" and "saga" against smaller developers. The hackathon was created, its website says, "because trademarking common words is ridiculous."

Organizers are calling on smaller developers to create and release candy-themed games between now and Feb. 3. Developers are asked to "make a game involving candies" and "consider using the word 'candy' several times."

King purchased the trademark for the word "candy" in Europe from a now-defunct company and had filed an application to duplicate that trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The company already owns trademarks for "saga."

Following those transactions, King began sending cease-and-desist letters to developers using those words in their games. Among the recipients was Stoic, makers of Banner Saga, a popular viking-themed role-playing game, who had applied for a trademark of their own.

A firestorm of publicity accompanied the letters, and King representatives attempted to tamp down the blaze by posting an open letter to the community regarding intellectual property.

"At its simplest, our policy is to protect our IP and to also respect the IP of others," the letter reads. It goes on to compare the "candy" trademarks to those of more famous companies like Time Magazine, Sun Microsystems, and even Apple.