The United States Patent and Trademark Office has denied Sony’s application to trademark the mark “Let’s Play” — at least for the time being. For those remotely familiar with trademark law and the video game industry, this is an open and shut case.
Spotted earlier last week from NeoGAF user Seraphis Cain, on October 28. 2015 Sony filed a trademark application for “Let’s Play.” The trademark application listed was for Class 38, specifically “Electronic transmission and streaming of video games via global and local computer networks; streaming of audio, visual, and audiovisual material via global and local computer networks.” So, in other words, what has become famous as a let’s play.
Trademark applications can be denied on a wealth of grounds, be it likelihood of confusion (if there is a similar trademark that will be confused) or if the term is general or generic without a secondary meaning. According to a response from the USPTO, this specific mark was denied for the likelihood confusion to an already existing service mark for “LP LET’Z PLAY” filed two years prior. Due to the fact the marks and the services are closely related, the USPTO concluded “the marks are highly similar and the services are closely related, consumer confusion is likely. Accordingly, registration is refused under Trademark Act Section 2(d).”
With all of this in mind, don’t count Sony out. While there are plenty of reasons that the mark should be denied, it is undoubtedly a profitable property. Additionally, a denial of the trademark application gives Sony 6 months to respond to the USPTO’s claims and conclusions.