Yesterday, we talked about how wise it was King to enforce their trademarks against companies out to use it for gain without merit. With copycat products out there clearly evoking its imagery, it’s fair for them (or any company in that position) to go after products that could hurt the value of their IP. Well, that was yesterday…now King has trademarked “Saga” and is going after companies with that in a game’s title. The big difference with this and the “candy” issue is that there, they only went after one game that came out after their product and featured a very similar color scheme — so a case could at least be made for that since it infringed on the trade dress to some degree.
Now, with the “Saga” trademark in tow, they’ve decided to go after The Banner Saga while citing marketplace confusion with not only Candy Crush Saga, but also the five billion other things they have with “Saga” in the title. This kind of thing is where the line is crossed from a viable argument being possible to a company just becoming a bunch of bullies. The Banner Saga is a tactical-RPG and as a result, features menus with more depth than the entirety of King’s back catalog. Banner Saga features incredibly-detailed art — something you won’t find in a King product. It’s also part of a genre that King has never once come close to dabbling in, and there’s absolutely no way someone would think that the game was something King made even on a surface level given the high quality of the art relative to what King uses.
This kind of crap is EXACTLY what everyone feared would happen with the “candy” trademark, and with them now going after companies without much of a valid reason for doing so, it’s about to get real. Maybe Square Enix can go after them for the SaGa series and claim that King’s delusion of the term prevents their 25 year-long franchise from being viable in the marketplace for the past decade. As much as we admire King for going after copycats, and seemingly getting a lot of their logos made via gigs on Fiverr, there’s no good reason to bully around the folks at Stoic. Their game isn’t even playable on phones, tablets, or Facebook — the most likely devices for King’s games, and no attempt is made to use the Saga name in connection with anything King has done.
Fortunately, there’s plenty of outcry about this already. While it’s doubtful this will do much to prevent King from doing further damage to Stoic, it could prevent them from trying this kind of stunt with another company. The key to their common word trademarks is only enforcing them when it’s apt, and that’s clearly not the case here. As a result, they’ve essentially squandered any goodwill they could have had from just going after one game with “candy” recently. King’s making more than enough money from Candy Crush Saga to not have to be so vile. They’re already facing a backlash because CCS is so popular, and now they’re out to take money out of another company’s pockets when they aren’t even attempting to cash in on their success.
King has gone too far with this, and unless they’re stopped now, they’ll just continue to push companies around and hide behind the law in the process — essentially acting like that smug kid in school who talks a big game before getting his big brother to protect him. No one ever likes that kid, and no one will like this company unless their practices change.