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The Saga Continues: King’s Pressure Could Crush Hopes for ‘Banner Saga’ Sequel

Aaron did a lovely little write up of the King vs Stoic issue yesterday, in which he discussed King’s pending trademark application for the word ‘saga’ and how the company has filed a Notice Of Opposition to the US Patent and Trademark Office stating that Stoic should be refused the trademark for The Banner Saga because it contained the (not-yet trademarked) noun; ‘saga’.

The issue got a little muddled at points; King issued a statement arguing that it “has not and is not trying to stop Banner Saga from using its name” but “like any prudent company” they are taking “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. If we had not opposed Banner Saga’s trade mark application, it would be much easier for real copy cats to argue that their use of “Saga” was legitimate.”

But, like John has pointed out on RPS, the wording of the Notice of Opposition suggests something very different:

“Upon information and belief, Applicant had knowledge of the fact that Opposer used its SAGA Marks as trademarks before it adopted its mark. Applicant’s THE BANNER SAGA mark is confusing and deceptively similar to Opposer’s previously used SAGA Marks.”

Deception implies a kind of illicit activity, and the further assumption by King that Stoic already had previous knowledge of King’s use of its ‘SAGA Marks’ seems a little dubious too (remember, King still hasn’t successfully registered the noun ‘saga’ independently from it’s titles; Candy Crush Saga etc.).

Last night, Stoic kicked back against King’s pressure:

“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.”

Seems like Stoic are adamant on keeping ‘saga’ in their title, and are keen on featuring the controversial noun in future game titles. So what if King manages to secure the noun? Well, I guess a sequel to The Banner Saga will have to be shelved…

Stoic further indicated in their statement to RPS that King had “blocked our trademark and extended the deadline for the opposition twice so that we are unable to have the rights to the name.” Looks like the conflict between King and Stoic over The Banner Saga and other ‘saga’ related content has been raging for some time. Yesterday we witnessed one battle, but we were surprised to learn that the war had, in fact, started years ago…

I share both Aaron and John’s concern that should this come down to a legal confrontation King’s got more than enough candy to keep its lawyers going for a while whereas Stoic (being a small indie developer), would likely end up high and dry (and candy-less, like every other game developer working on a game that includes the word ‘candy’ in its title).

The ‘saga’ controversy has been bouncing around social networks all night. Twitter was on fire yesterday with discussion. Here are some of my favourite tweets on the issue:

 

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