When an online gaming website develops a hugely popular online fame for social media and mobile phone users, it is not always that it goes on to become a raving success. But, when developer King which develops games for social media giant Facebook, developed a game called candy crush saga, the story was different. This game has become a household name and has millions of social media users, iphone and android phone users hooked on to it. The game was released in the year 2012, and since its release it has garnered a huge fan following. Most users even describe it as ‘addictive’ and stress-busting’. It has beaten all its competitors to reach the top spot as seen on March 2013.
This game is a financial success for its developers. The ioS App store and Goole Play store have registered the highest number of downloads in the December 2012. And, since it can be downloaded freely on the mobile phone, its popularity has definitely reached dizzying heights. So, the developers of the game have trademarked the word ‘candy’ and have notified any other app developer with ‘candy’ in their title with an infringement notice. And, this step of King has incurred a lot of flak from all section. This trademark has been termed as abusive.
Firstly, one has to understand trademark registration to understand what is abusive about this trademark.
Trademark is nothing but a sign, logo design or title which makes the service offered or the product created/ manufactured unique and sets it apart from the rest. A trademark can be owned by the creator of the product. It can be a company or an individual. A trademark symbol is generally printed along with the brand name or logo. Trademark is a type of intellectual property and a trademark can be owned like any other property through its registration with the local government. When trademark is registered, the company or the individual who has the trademark has full ownership of the title or logo etc. and can take legal action against anybody who uses this title or logo or design to sell- buy their goods or for any other monetary benefits.
Like in any case, there is a certain section of the society willing to exploit their right in a way it is unfair to the rest. And, it has been observed that there are a lot of people willing to take advantage of trademark registration to wipe out competition or achieve their goals in an unfair manner. A registration is termed abusive by the law when the registration creates an unfair advantage to the trademark holder and is unfairly disadvantageous to the person or the organisation which files a complaint against his registration.
The developer giant behind this successful game has trademarked the word ‘candy’ which has played a major role in the success of the game. The game essentially is a rearrangement one, i.e. the gamer ears points each time he arranges three and more candies of the same kind in a row. The simplicity of the game has been the key to its success. And, it is a brand of its own. So, the company has decided that ‘candy’ should be used only by them because the users will get confused while trying to download this game with other games of similar titles. The top management claims that this confusion will cause their brand a lot of damage and therefore, this is a reasonable step.
However, developers of games with similar names claim that their games have a different opinion. They claim that:
· The consumer is well aware of the different games that are available for download.
· The nature of their games is completely different.
· They are also popular amongst gamers in the world of mobile applications.
· Fighting the developer giant legally which is supported by social media head honchos and other big wigs will be very tough.
· This will cause serious financial losses to a lot of game developers around the globe.
· Is unhealthy for game developers if a common noun such as ‘candy’.
· This action will send a wrong signal to every game developer. The bigger fish is not superior in the eyes of law and that everybody is equal.
This is in fact considered a selfish and greedy step by other developers. The developers of different games with similar names have been served with an infringement notice. However, the legal experts say that a coexistence agreement can be thought about to put an end to this row. But it is believed that abusive trademarks can be a serious problem. Each time a name such as ‘candy’ or ‘battery’ or ‘ice’ is trademarked, then, it not only causes problem to existent users but also to upcoming developers, manufacturers etc.
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