Everything is going to be okay. It might not seem like it at first, but everything will be okay.
The U.S.Patent and Trademark office filed a Notice of Abandonment yesterday to Sony Computer Entertainment America advising them of the trademark for The Last Guardian‘s return to public domain.
Sony didn’t abandon anything; at least, not actively. A notice of abandonment is something that arises through inaction. Because Sony hasn’t done anything with the trademark since they filed it in 2009, it is considered to no longer be in use. The likely scenario, which Sony likely won’t be too forthcoming on, is that someone at Sony forgot to renew the trademark before it expired.
According to the notice itself, Sony has two months to renew the application. A Kotaku columnist stated Sony has until January 2013 to “prove use in commerce,” meaning releasing a product or potentially even just advertising it. Even if Sony did let the trademark expire (unlikely), it’s unlikely that some shady party would be able to squat on the trademark.
While Sony isn’t commenting on this particular situation, they did comment on the development of the game itself, telling Chris Kohler of Wired, “The Last Guardian is still in development.”
The sad-looking feathery dog thing from the original Last Guardian trailers sure has had a tough time. After debuting in May of 2009, the next news didn’t come until the very end of 2010 when then-lead designer told Gamasutra the team was in “full production crunch mode” to complete the game. He still insisted the game would ship by the end of 2011. In December, however, Ueda announced he would be leaving Sony as a full-time employee, though he also said he would be finishing the game the game as a contracted employee. Since then, only word of technical difficulties has come out, and finally this latest trademark trouble.
With all this troubled history, it’s tough to tell if the game will even make it to shelves, let alone live up to the legacy left by Shadow of the Colossus and Ico.