King: We should never have published Pac-Avoid

Riccardo Zacconi, the CEO of King, has admitted that his company should never have released Pac-Avoid.

Attention turned to the game in the wake of the Candy trademark dispute, with the accusation being that King knowingly cloned a game called Scamperghost that it had in 2009 been in negotiations to publish.

Pac-Avoid 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,” Zacconi admitted in an open letter.

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.”

Zacconi also went on to defend King against the criticism it has faced for attempting to trademark ‘Candy’ in the US.

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. Like any responsible company, we take appropriate steps to protect our IP, including our look-and-feel and trademarks.

Our goals are simple: to ensure that our employees’ hard work is not simply copied elsewhere, that we avoid player confusion and that the integrity of our brands remains.

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 US.

We’ve been the subject of no little scorn for our actions on this front, but the truth is that there is nothing very unusual about trademarking a common word for specific uses. Think of ‘Time’, ‘Money’, ‘Fortune’, ‘Apple’ and ‘Sun’, to name a few. 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 capitalise on our success.”

He then moved on to specifically address the situation with Stoic and Banner Saga.

Separately, we have opposed the game developer, Stoic’s application to trademark ‘Banner Saga’,” he added. We don’t believe that Banner Saga resembles any of our games but we already have a series of games where ‘Saga’ is key to the brand which our players associate with King, such as Candy Crush Saga, Bubble Witch Saga, Pet Rescue Saga, Farm Heroes Saga and so on. All of these titles 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. Otherwise, it would be much easier for future copycats to argue that use of the word ‘Saga’ when related to games, was fair play.”

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