King CEO issues an open letter responding to cloning & trademark criticism

By Sherif Saed, Monday, 27 January 2014 18:30 GMT

King is in the news again, this time courtesy of an open letter issued by its CEO, Riccardo Zacconi. The letter touches on the subject of the trademark filings for the word ‘Candy’ and also addresses the clone accusations that came to light this morning regarding Pac-Avoid.

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“Over the last few days, there has been a vigorous debate both inside and outside King about how we protect our intellectual property. The discussion has focused on three issues: Our decision to buy the EU trademark for the word ‘Candy’, and to seek a U.S. trademark as well; our opposition to the game publisher Stoic seeking a trademark for the phrase ‘Banner Saga’; and the accusation that five years ago, King commissioned a game that basically cloned an existing game from another developer,” starts Zacconi.

Adding that the idea is to protect their IP, avoid player confusion and to prevent cloning attempts from other developers.

“The debate here revolves around Pac-Avoid, a game coded by a third-party on our behalf nearly five years ago. The game strongly resembles another game called ScamperGhost. The details of the situation are complex, but the bottom line is that we should never have published Pac-Avoid. We have taken the game down from our site, and we apologise 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. Before we launch any game, we do a thorough search of other games in the marketplace and review relevant trademark filings to ensure that we are not infringing anyone else’s IP. We have launched hundreds of games. Occasionally, we get things wrong. When we do, we take appropriate action,” he added.

Regarding the outstanding issue with Stoic, developer of The Banner Saga, Zacconi said that they’re aware there’s no resemblance between The Banner Saga and other King titles, yet they opposed Stoic’s application to trademark ‘Banner Saga’, with no intention of stopping them from using the word ‘Saga’ but to “preserve our own ability to protect our own games, otherwise, it would be much easier for future copycats to argue that use of the word ‘Saga’ when related to games, was fair play.”

This follows this morning’s reveal by Matt Porter, the developer of Pac-Avoid, which is perceived to be a clone of Scamperghost, that King did in fact ask him to make a clone of Scamperghost when they couldn’t make a deal with its creator.

Thanks, Polygon.

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