Team ICO’s long in development The Last Guardian has been MIA for years now. Originally revealed in 2009 and scheduled for a release in 2011, the game has missed expo after expo and has suffered numerous setbacks. Some of those setbacks include the departure of the game’s lead designer and creative director Fumito Ueda, who resigned from the Sony project but continues to work on the game on a freelance basis. Sony has also had to get US and UK development teams to assist Team ICO on the development of The Last Guardian.
Now the trademark for the game’s title has been abandoned by Sony, however it’s not as scary as it sounds. A trademark can only be held for a product for three years, and within those three years the product has to be released to market. If there is no product to show for the trademark filing within the first three years, then the trademark reverts to being publically available.
This sort of thing is nothing new, and according to Internet super-sleuth Superannuation, Sony would have to release The Last Guardian by January 2013 to avoid losing the trademark. It’s likely that somebody at Sony slipped up and forgot to renew the trademark filing.
Website Kotaku points out that the US has strict trademark laws that block people from picking up “abandoned” trademarks. In other words, the odds of somebody swooping in and snatching The Last Guardian trademark from Sony is very, very unlikely.
Since this whole mess became public knowledge, there’s been speculation that this is the death knell for the long dormant project. A Sony rep has since put fans at ease by stating that this current trademark filing fluff-up does NOT mean the game is cancelled. Sony will likely appeal the automated “abandoned” status and remain in possession of the trademark.