Sony Tries and Fails to Trademark “Let’s Play”
In an unusual gaming controversy, Sony Computer Entertainment of America (SCEA) applied for a trademark of the term “let’s play” back at the end of October 2015. The application was discovered by the internet over the last week. This sparked a not insignificant controversy over SCEA trying to claim ownership of a fairly common term in the gaming world.
Funnily enough, the controversy should have been over before it even started. Before the news of the copyright application broke, the US Patent and Trademark Office refused Sony’s application.
While many people expected Sony’s application to be denied for a number of reasons including, but not limited to, SCEA not using “let’s play” as part of its marketing or product offerings at the moment and the common use of the term for gameplay videos. Instead, a similar registered trademark of Let’z Play of America listed as LP Let’s Play is the reason for rejection of SCEA’s application. The official reason given by the USPTO is “likelihood of confusion.”
According to the USPTO decision, the Let’z Play of America trademark refers to “online and offline opportunities for video game enthusiasts to meet and participate in live video game tournaments and on-demand console gaming.” That sounds like either a competitive tournament organizer and/or a gaming café. The SCEA trademark application sounds a little more standard for the term. USPTO refers to the trademark application as being for “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.”
This opens up an interesting avenue for discussion. Sony is looking to get into let’s playing somehow, some way. The PS4 already has integration with Twitch for live streaming along with the ability to upload short clips to YouTube. No rumours have surfaces as to what Sony’s plans for let’s playing would be but I would have to guess that it would be tied into the PS4’s Share button.
Interestingly, stories about Sony’s trademark application broke last week but actually happened on October 31, 2015. The rejection notice sent to Sony was dated December 29, 2015, which is actually before any of these stories were published and outrage began.
The decision by the USPTO is not final. SCEA has six months from the date of rejection to appeal the decision.