The maker of the highly addictive app Candy Crush Saga has put its plans of a $5bn stock market launch on hold, after fears the game is a fad.
King, the British technology firm which makes the game, secretly filed its pre-initial public offering documents last September, but received a cool response from investors who were concerned they’d lose out financially if Candy Crush’s popularity tanked. In 2011, rival company Zynga lost about three quarters of its value after being unable to replicate the success of flagship game Farmville.
King is also facing fresh allegations that it copied Candy Crush from an independent developer.
CandySwipe, which came out in 2010, a year and a half before Candy Crush was released, was built single-handedly by app developer Albert Ransom.
The similarities between the two games are striking and Ransom said he has been quietly fighting a trademark opposition for a year.
However, now King is attempting to trademark the words “candy” and “saga”, which would make it impossible for CandySwipe to continue.
This is the second time King has been accused of copying a game. In January, it was accused of replicating Scamperghost, a game it originally intended to buy, and then attempting to release it first under the name Pac-Avoid.
In an open letter to King on the CandySwipe website, Ransom said he made the game in memory of his mother, who died of leukaemia at the age of 62.
Here’s the letter in full:
Congratulations! You win! I created my game CandySwipe in memory of my late mother who passed away at an early age of 62 of leukemia. I released CandySwipe in 2010 five months after she passed and I made it because she always liked these sorts of games. In fact, if you beat the full version of the android game, you will still get the message saying “…the game was made in memory of my mother, Layla…” I created this game for warmhearted people like her and to help support my family, wife and two boys 10 and 4. Two years after I released CandySwipe, you released Candy Crush Saga on mobile; the app icon, candy pieces, and even the rewarding, “Sweet!” are nearly identical. So much so, that I have hundreds of instances of actual confusion from users who think CandySwipe is Candy Crush Saga, or that CandySwipe is a Candy Crush Saga knockoff. So when you attempted to register your trademark in 2012, I opposed it for “likelihood of confusion” (which is within my legal right) given I filed for my registered trademark back in 2010 (two years before Candy Crush Saga existed). Now, after quietly battling this trademark opposition for a year, I have learned that you now want to cancel my CandySwipe trademark so that I don’t have the right to use my own game’s name. You are able to do this because only within the last month you purchased the rights to a game named Candy Crusher (which is nothing like CandySwipe or even Candy Crush Saga). Good for you, you win. I hope you’re happy taking the food out of my family’s mouth when CandySwipe clearly existed well before Candy Crush Saga.
I have spent over three years working on this game as an independent app developer. I learned how to code on my own after my mother passed and CandySwipe was my first and most successful game; it’s my livelihood, and you are now attempting to take that away from me. You have taken away the possibility of CandySwipe blossoming into what it has the potential of becoming. I have been quiet, not to exploit the situation, hoping that both sides could agree on a peaceful resolution. However, your move to buy a trademark for the sole purpose of getting away with infringing on the CandySwipe trademark and goodwill just sickens me.
This also contradicts your recent quote by Riccardo in “An open letter on intellectual property” posted on your website which states, “We believe in a thriving game development community, and believe that good game developers – both small and large – have every right to protect the hard work they do and the games they create.”
I myself was only trying to protect my hard work.
I wanted to take this moment to write you this letter so that you know who I am. Because I now know exactly what you are. Congratulations on your success!
President (Founder), Runsome Apps Inc.