Last week, online publisher King came under intense internet scrutiny for seeking a trademark on the word "Candy", opposing Stoic Studios' "The Banner Saga" trademark, and allegedly cloning indie online game Scamperghost. Today, King CEO and co-founder Riccardo Zacconi responded to all three issues in an open letter on the company's official webpage.
On the alleged cloning of Scamperghost, Zacconi apologized directly and stated that the clone, Pac-Avoid, has been removed from King's RoyalGames website.
"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 apologize for having published it in the first place," wrote Zacconi. "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."
On the "Candy" trademark and the opposition to Stoic's "The Banner Saga" trademark, Zacconi re-iterated that the company was merely doing its due diligence to protect its games. He also noted that other companies own trademarks on single words, including "Time", "Money", "Fortune", "Apple", and "Sun".
"To protect our IP, last year we acquired the trademark in the EU for 'Candy' from a company that was in bankruptcy – and we have filed for a similar trademark in the U.S. We are not trying to control the world's use of the word 'Candy;' having a trade mark doesn't allow us to do that anyway. We're just trying to prevent others from creating games that unfairly capitalize on our success."
Zacconi says that King does not believe that Banner Saga resembles any of its games, but notes that many of its Saga games "have already faced substantive trademark and copyright issues with clones."
"We're not trying to stop Stoic from using the word Saga but we had to oppose their application to preserve our own ability to protect our own games," he added. "Otherwise, it would be much easier for future copycats to argue that use of the word "Saga" when related to games, was fair play."