The United States Patent and Trademark Office have rejected Sony Computer Entertainment of America’s attempt to trademark “Let’s Play”, but probably not for the reasons you may think.
The reason the trademark application was rejected was for reasons of consumer confusion, and nothing to do with the phrase being a widely popular title for YouTube videos featuring playthroughs of video games.
The question of consumer confusion comes from a similar trademark held since 2013 by Let’z Play of America, which is a Georgia-based company that organizes and connects video gamers with online and offline events. The USPTO highlighted Sony’s application to trademark “Let’s Play” in late December, as they deemed the trademark “confusingly similar” to the aforementioned one.
The concept of “Let’s Plays” have had a somewhat complicated relationship with game developers and publishers, with some being removed due to YouTube’s automated flagging system for copyrighted content. Whilst some game companies have specifically stated that they will never censor or remove “Let’s Play” videos of their games, others are somewhat more strict. Nintendo is probably the poster boy for the stricter companies, setting up a complex “affiliate program“, which only approves certain games to be played and divides the advertising revenue from the videos between themselves and the content creator.
It’s not know what SCEA reasons for trademarking the phrase is, with SCEA not responding to popular video game website Polygon‘s requests for a comment. It’s key to note that the USPTO’s refusal of the trademark is not final as of yet, with Sony having until June 29 to appeal the decision.
Until further comments are made we will just have to speculate on Sony’s end game. It’s probably best to ignore the the guy in the tin-foil hat lamenting the downfall of a free YouTube though…