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King.com Opposes 'Candy Crunch' Trademark Application... From Actual Fruit Varietal Maker

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King.com and its flagship product, mobile game Candy Crush, have made it onto our pages several times in the past. The most common reason for that is that King appears to enjoy playing trademark bully. Fighting with the folks behind hit game Banner Saga, not to mention picking fights with any other game maker that uses the word "candy" in their titles, have become the norm. Notably, some of the time, when there is a severe public backlash over its antics, King has also shown that it is capable of running away from such disputes.But if you thought that all of this would mean that King would somehow soften its bullying ways, think again. King recently opposed a trademark application brought by International Fruit Genetics over its application for "Candy Crunch". What does IFG do, exactly? Well, essentially what it sounds like it does: breeding of fruit variants.

IFG’s focus on breeding table grape varieties to please consumers delivers increased growth and profitability for retailers and growers around the world. With its breadth of exciting flavors and shapes with a full spectrum of colors of grape varieties, IFG is creating a grape sensation for consumers who are discovering that good tasting grapes can be an important part of their nutritional plan.
Okay, so the company makes real life, actual fruit variants. But what is its "Candy Crunch" product? Some mobile game the company is using to promote itself? A smartphone app to help farmers and growers?No, it's a grape. A fucking grape.
Trademark Name: Candy Crunch™Variety Name: IFG TwentyHarvest: mid to late season blackCluster size: mediumBerry shape: oval elongated
In case it isn't obvious to you, IRL fruit and mobile match 3 games are not remotely the same thing or in the same marketplace. There is also absolutely nothing to suggest in any of the website or marketing material for IFG that mentions any connection to the mobile game. And, yet, King apparently believes that its mark is simply so famous that market designations of this sort, or any actual customer confusion, are trumped by such notoriety.
The opposers have contested this because they have been cultivating their “Candy Crush” brand since 2004 with a host of games, computer software and programs, including their flagship, “CANDY CRUSH SAGA.” Furthermore, they have “continuously and extensively,” advertised their games and products, and their trademarks “have developed and represent valuable goodwill inuring to the benefit of Opposers.” The opposers claimed that the proposed Candy Crunch trademark is “confusingly and deceptively similar to Opposers’ previously used and duly registered CANDY CRUSH Marks.”Because of this, the opposers alleged that the registering of Candy Crunch with the Trademark Office will cause them damages and are “likely to cause confusion, mistake, or deception that Applicant’s good are those of Opposers, or are otherwise endorsed, sponsored, or approved by Opposers for use with Opposers’ goods and services causing further damage to Opposers.” This is because Candy Crush is a well established and famous franchise, according to the notice, and would confuse their consumers if a similarly named product appeared on the market.
And that is absurd. Customers of IFG are fruit farmers looking to license variants for all matter of reasons, such as viability, yield, etc. Now, we could spend some time talking about whether that model should be allowed at all, but that isn't the purpose of this post. The point is that no fruit farmer is going to go to IFG, see one grape variant called "Candy Crunch", and somehow think it has anything to do with Candy Crush, the mobile game. That... just isn't going to happen.In which case there is no confusion among the public. And there is no competition between the two products. Which means, my friends, there is no valid reason to oppose IFG's application.

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posted at: 12:00am on 05-Nov-2021
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

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Content Moderation Case Study: Facebook Struggles To Correctly Moderate The Word 'Hoe' (2021)

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Summary: One of the many challenges with content moderation is the flexibility of language. When applying blocklists — a list of prohibited terms considered not appropriate for the platform — moderators need to consider innocuous uses of words that, when removed from their context, appear to be violations of the platform’s terms of use.

Multiple platforms have run into the phenomenon known as the "Scunthorpe problem." In this famous case, a town whose name no one would ever mistake for offensive was deemed offensive by moderation blocklists simply because within the name of the town is the word “cunt” which many blocklists forbids.Deploying automated blocklists can be even more challenging when dealing with specialized or niche content, which may use certain terms that are offensive outside of this specific context, but are essential to discussing and understanding the relevant subject matter. A paleontologists' conference was derailed when the moderation blocklist made it impossible for participants to use words like "bone," "pubic," "stream," and "beaver."Facebook has worked continuously to refine its moderation processes, but it still occasionally makes the wrong call when it comes to their blocklists. In January 2021, residents of (and visitors to) a Devon, England landmark were surprised to find their posts and comments vanishing from the site. After a little investigation, it became clear Facebook was deleting posts containing references to the landmark known as Plymouth Hoe.In addition to being the name of a common garden tool (more on that in a moment), "hoe" also refers to a "sloping ridge shaped like an inverted foot or heel," such as Plymouth Hoe, which is known locally as the Hoe. Users were temporarily forced to self-censor the harmless term to avoid moderation, either by adding unnecessary punctuation or dropping the "h." It appeared Facebook's automated processes believed these comments and posts were using a derogatory term for a romantic partner who is only in a relationship to better their own financial position.Facebook soon apologized for the moderation error and stated it was "taking steps to rectify the error" and figure out what caused the mistaken moderation in the first place. Problem solved?Not really.The same problem popped up again, this time affecting a New York gardening group. WNY Gardeners, a group with more than 8,000 members, is the latest to be affected by Facebook's "hoe" pruning. A member responded to the prompt "most loved & indispensable weeding tool" with "Push pull hoe!" Not long after that, the member was informed by Facebook that the comment violated the site's policy on bullying and harassment.Company Considerations:
  • How could blocklists and keyword searches be better utilized to detect and remove violations of site policies? 
  • How much collateral damage from automated moderation should be considered acceptable? Is this an acceptable trade-off for lower moderation costs, which often relies on more automated moderation and fewer human moderators?
  • Can AI-based moderation more reliably detect actual violations (rather than innocuous uses of blocklisted terms) as the technology advances? What are the trade-offs with AI-based moderation tools as compared to simple blocklists? 
  • What mitigation measures might be put in place to deal with a blocklist that catches words with different meanings depending on context?
  • Who should be in charge of reviewing a blocklist and how frequently should it be updated? 
Issue Considerations:
  • Does prohibiting words like “hoe” make a significant dent in online harassment and abuse? Does the tech have the capability to "catch up" (or surpass) the ability of humans to route around moderation efforts?
  • Should more resources go to staffing human moderators in order to prevent errors and/or allow for a more robust challenge process that allows content to remain "live" until the challenge process has concluded?
  • What ways might automation and human reviewers be used in combination to avoid the more egregious automated blocklist mistakes?
Resolution: Once again, Facebook has apologized for not recognizing the word "hoe" in contexts where it's appropriate to use. But after two highly-publicized incidents in less than a year -- both involving the same word -- Facebook has added human moderators to backstop automated calls on flagged terms like these in order to prevent unjustified removals of posts, accounts, or groups.Originally posted to the Trust & Safety Foundation website.

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posted at: 12:00am on 05-Nov-2021
path: /Policy | permalink | edit (requires password)

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