Gameinformer spoke to Eric Chad, an intellectual property attorney at the law firm of Merchant & Gould in Minneapolis, to shed some light of the future of the long-in-production title.
“Trademark law is pretty tricky because, while you don’t need to register a trademark with the government in order to sue others for infringing it, registering it does provide certain benefits that make enforcing your trademark earlier,” he said. “The abandonment that has taken place here is not of trademark rights but rather of Sony’s trademark application.”
In order to register a trademark, you have to be able to show the government you are currently using it in commerce, or that you plan to in the very near future. The latter is referred to as an intent to use application, and that’s what SCEA had.
“In this instance, Sony filed an ‘intent-to-use’ application, where they essentially told the Patent & Trademark Office, ‘Hey, we’d like to register this trademark on certain classes of goods, and we’re not using it in commerce yet, but we will,’ Chad said.
In the future, Sony can still trademark The Last Guardian again, and they claim to not have stopped development on the game. However, others are now able to use The Last Guardian trademark.
“’The Last Guardian’ is available for others to use until Sony begins using it or files another intent-to-use application. While the abandonment of the trademark application doesn’t mean the game is dead, it bears watching,” Chad said. “If Sony doesn’t file another intent-to-use application in the next several months, that would be telling.”
Still, the future looks as grim as ever for The Last Guardian, which was announced way back in 2009.