The Banner Saga developers respond to King's opposition of their trademark
Previously, on Banner Saga vs Candy Crush Saga: The Saga: Social gaming company King, the makers of Candy Crush Saga, apply to trademark the word "Candy". Indie RPG makers Stoic attempt to trademark The Banner Saga, because that is the name of their game. King file an opposition notice against Stoic's application because, despite not owning a trademark on the word saga, they own a lot of trademarks for names that contain the word saga. Jack Bauer has only fifteen minutes to save the Chinese delegation from CTU's latest mole, but Chloe is being sarcastic at a printer. King admit that they "do not have any concerns that Banner Saga is trying build on our brand or our content". An inoffensive comedian in a pale blue shirt mugs at the camera, saying "trademarks, eh?" while a sad trombone plays in the background.
And now, in the shocking mid-season finale, Stoic respond to King's actions, telling Polygon, "We won't make a viking saga without the word Saga, and we don't appreciate anyone telling us we can't."
"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.
"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."
"They've blocked our trademark and extended the deadline for the opposition twice so that we are unable to have the rights to the name," said Stoic's Alex Thomas, also to Polygon. "Essentially, we are not allowed to own the name 'The Banner Saga' for our game about a viking epic, because King.com says they have claimed rights to the noun 'saga,' which means 'a viking epic,' forever more in the realm of games."
Certainly it's true that King don't own a claim on the word Saga, despite their attempt to do so. As such, it does seem like their opposition is a thinly-veiled attempt to set precedence on their ownership of "Saga", even though they don't.
King are far from blameless here, but their main problem strikes me as a lack of communication. Trademark claims have to be protected, but they don't have to be fought. Coexistence agreements exist exactly in order to allow for overlap in cases where there's no chance of confusion between two brands. But rather than directly approach Stoic for an amicable resolution, they've legally filed against a company they don't see as a threat, in a way designed to extend the issue in their favour.
A coexistence agreement could still be reached, and would seem to be the beneficial solution for both parties. This, in so many cases, seems to be the consistent problem in trademark law "grey areas". Even in cases where settlements are reached, it's done in a way that seems punitive. King have a financial security that Stoic don't, which make any legal disputes grossly unbalanced, even if the smaller developer's use of saga is more linguistically appropriate. That doesn't make King malicious, as such, but it does make their actions seem bureaucratically ruthless.