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King removes game but denies 'cloning' accusations

Litigious trademark owner hit by hypocrisy claims

Casual games publisher King has taken a game offline after facing accusations of hypocrisy and cloning.

During the latter-half of January, King became a spectacle of public relations problems after its lawyers obtained a trademark for the word Candy across North America and Europe, before challenging a separate trademark application filed by the developers of The Banner Saga.

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As Apple and Google began to delete games with the word "candy" from its app stores, King insisted it was also forced to challenge The Banner Saga trademark due to its use of the word "saga".

The Banner Saga, a Viking-themed tactical role-playing video game, is apparently an infringement on King's Candy Crush Saga, a match-three puzzle game which emulates the rules of games such as Bejeweled (2001), Zoo Keeper (2003) and Tetris Attack (1996).

In the wake of the controversial trademark protection policies, the indie developer Matthew Cox claimed that King had deliberately copied his game Scamperghost after he turned down a deal to license the game to King.

Cox's claims, which King denies, were supplemented with a screenshot comparison of both titles.

King has denied it clones games generally, but has nevertheless taken the accused game down.

The corporation told Kotaku that IP "is important and should be properly protected".

"Like any prudent company, we take all appropriate steps to protect our IP in a sensible and fair way. At the same time, we are respectful of the rights and IP of other developers. Before we launch any game, we do a thorough search of other games in the marketplace, as well as a review of trademark filings, to ensure that we are not infringing anyone else's IP."

"However, for the avoidance of doubt, in this case, this game - which was coded by a third-party developer 5 years ago - is being taken down."

King, which has embarked on an expensive advertisement campaign to recreate the success of its Candy Crush games, is attempting to prove to investors it is no one-hit-wonder as it ponders an IPO.

Indie developer Stoic Studios says it will challenge for The Banner Saga trademark.

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