[UPDATE] Following the publication of this story, a representative for The Banner Saga developer Stoic Studios provided the following the statement to Kotaku, which explains why the independent studio plans to fight.
"Two years ago, the three of us at Stoic set out to make an epic viking game: The Banner Saga. We did, and people loved it, so we're making another one. We won't make a viking saga without the word Saga, and we don't appreciate anyone telling us we can't," the representative said. "King.com claims they're not attempting to prevent us from using The Banner Saga, and yet their legal opposition to our trademark filing remains. We're humbled by the outpouring of support and honored to have others stand with us for the right to their own Saga. We just want to make great games."
The original story is below.
King, maker of hit mobile game Candy Crush Saga, has released a statement that aims to explain why they have filed a notice of opposition against the trademark application for Stoic Studios' The Banner Saga. The notice of opposition contends that The Banner Saga is "confusingly and deceptively similar" to Candy Crush Saga.
"King has not and is not trying to stop The Banner Saga from using its name. We do not have any concerns that The Banner Saga is trying build on our brand or our content," a representative for the company told Gamasutra.
Then why file the notice of opposition at all? King says the company is simply trying to defend its position under the terms of trademark law.
"However, like any prudent company, we need to take all appropriate steps to protect our IP, both now and in the future. In this case, that means preserving our ability to enforce our rights in cases where other developers may try to use the Saga mark in a way which infringes our IP rights and causes player confusion," the representative said. "If we had not opposed The Banner Saga’s trademark application, it would be much easier for real copy cats to argue that their use of 'Saga' was legitimate."
Earlier this week, King made headlines when it got one step closer to owning the trademark for "Candy" after the United States Patent & Trademark Office approved it for publication. This news drew backlash from those who think a corporation should not be allowed to control a term that is so commonly used. But King says it's out for the trademark only as a means to protect itself from the many clones out there trying to imitate the hit mobile game.
"This is an important issue for King because we already have a series of games where 'Saga' is key to the brand which our players associate with a King game; Candy Crush Saga, Bubble Witch Saga, Pet Rescue Saga, Farm Heroes Saga and so on," the statement goes on. "All of these titles have already faced substantive trademark and copyright issues with clones."
Meanwhile, a group of indie game developers have launched an impromptu game jam that lampoons King over its attempts to trademark the word "Candy." Called Candy Jam, the event asks participants to create games that use the words "Candy," Saga," and "Scroll" liberally. Organizers said they created the campaign "because trademarking common words is ridiculous…"
Trademark-based disputes between publishers and games are of course nothing new. Most recently, Elder Scrolls studio Bethesda Softworks launched a lawsuit against Minecraft creator Mojang over its use of the word "Scrolls" in its new strategy card game. This lawsuit was ultimately settled, with the Minecraft makers allowed to keep the Scrolls title, so long as the game was not designed to compete directly with Elder Scrolls.
While that case involved an actual lawsuit, the current situation between King and Stoic is limited to trademark opposition paperwork alone, at least right now.