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Cut the Rope dev challenges King's 'candy' trademark in EU

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Cut the Rope developer ZeptoLab is challenging Candy Crush Saga company King's trademark on the word "candy" in Europe by filing a claim against the mark.

According to a press statement, the claim was filed with the European Union in London on March 20 with the aim of canceling King's hold on "candy" and allowing other developers to use the term freely for their own games. In ZeptoLab's own Cut the Rope games, players are tasked with swiping the screen to cut ropes that will deliver candy in the mouth of its protagonist, the critter Om Nom.

Last month, King abandoned its efforts in the U.S. to trademark the word. In January the company posted an open letter on its website explaining its attempt to trademark the word, stating it was doing so to prevent other developers from finding success cloning their game.

"King.com currently has a trademark registration for 'candy' in the European Union that covers video games, video game services, and clothing such as t-shirts," reads the press statement from ZeptoLab. "To extend this monopoly, King.com is using the registration in Europe as a basis to file trademark applications for 'candy' in numerous other countries.

"Although they withdrew their trademark application for 'candy' in the United States in February, registration in the EU remains active. If ZeptoLab's legal filing is successful, all applications for the registration of 'candy' based upon the European Union registration will be dissolved."

"Candy is an integral part of the Cut the Rope franchise," ZeptoLab CEO Misha Lyalin added. "And we do not support King.com trademarking and preventing others from using it."

Speaking with Polygon, Jesse Saivar of Los Angeles entertainment law firm Greenberg Glusker said ZeptoLab's cancellation proceeding could be a publicity grab, but at its core is likely a claim against King for filing a mark on a description and not a product.

"Most people are under the mistaken impression that once you get a registration, you are all set," he explained. "That's not the case. Trademarks can be canceled on various grounds. The way it works is when you apply for a trademark first, the trademark office you applied to generally looks to see if there are any potential issues based on preexisting marks, or if there are any issues with registerability of the mark you are trying to register."

Even after the trademark office give the thumbs up, there is a short period during which third parties can file oppositions if they feel the trademark can harm them or their business in any way. The most common reason to file for opposition, according to Saivar, is if a company feels a trademark is too close to their own.

"One of the reasons King probably abandoned its trademark in the U.S. was because it was afraid someone would file a claim like this," he added. "King may have wanted to avoid something like this. It was probably going to happen."

Polygon has reached out to King for comment and will share more details as we have them.

Update: A representative for ZeptoLab confirmed the cancellation claim was filed on March 20 for King's "candy" trademark registration in Europe.

"If ZeptoLab is successful, then this central objection will affect all of the individual country applications based upon the 'candy' registration," the representative said.

"ZeptoLab has trademark registrations for 'Feed with Candy' in association with the Cut the Rope game application in countries and locations, including the European Union," CEO Misha Lyalin added. "It is important to us to protect our valuable intellectual property."