The Reasons Behind Killer Instinct Refusal & What The Future Holds

3 min

You may remember some time back in September when I mentioned a Killer Instinct revival, that’s when I posted the news that Microsoft was attempting to renew the license to Killer Instinct, the massively popular fighter from the gaming days of old. And for the older gamer, I’m sure you went ballistic over it, some folks started looking over the good times and remembering sofa tournaments, but most of the memories that I jump to when it comes to killer instinct is trying to nail an ultra combo just so that I could hear the announcer scream at my opponent, there was nothing better at the time.

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Well now I have an update on that, but chances are it is not an update that you’re going to like. Earlier today, Microsoft received the good old ‘ “Return to Sender” stamp on that License Renewal Request from the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The reason: It would seem that the likelihood of confusion would be high because something else with a similar title already exists: A FOX TV show….from 2005. Here is the official lettering from the notice:


The referenced application has been reviewed by the assigned trademark examining attorney. Applicant must respond timely and completely to the issue(s) below. 15 U.S.C. §1062(b); 37 C.F.R. §§2.62(a), 2.65(a); TMEP §§711, 718.03.


Section 2(d) Refusal – Likelihood Of Confusion


Registration of the applied-for mark is refused because of a likelihood of confusion with the mark in U.S. Registration No. 3370331. Trademark Act Section 2(d), 15 U.S.C. §1052(d); see TMEP §§1207.01 et seq. See the enclosed registration.

Applicant’s mark is KILLER INSTINCT for “video game software” and “entertainment services, namely, providing online video games.” Registrant’s mark is KILLER INSTINCT for “entertainment services in the nature of a television series featuring drama.”

Specifically, the evidence shows that television shows are commonly made into games. Therefore, applicants and registrant’s goods and services are considered related for likelihood of confusion purposes.

Now before you go on and rage in the comments against FOX, this doesn’t mean that a new Killer Instinct is no longer a possibility. It just means that there’s going to be a few more (admittedly unnecessary) complications that the Microsoft team will have to go through before they can even get started on production. And before you ask, yes, this type of stuff happens practically all the time in the corporate world, so this isn’t anything earth-shattering. Although it does raise a few questions about the future of the Killer Instinct universe.

If the title is indeed a problem due to the likelihood of confusion, a simple fix would be to just change the title. A bit of a no brainer really. But, if they are at liberty to change the title, does that mean that they might slide in a few changes while they’re at it? Remember how jarring the change to the Mortal Komat and Street Fighter format was?

Killer Instinct is a very solid fighter that holds up to this very day. The controls are solid and characters are well defined, the sound-scape is broader than what you would expect for such an old title. The character balance was also just right! You had Jago, the fast hitting ninja who could kick across the screen and attack quickly and lightly. Not much damage, but the speed meant you could land more hits and then get defensive. There was Fulgore, a machine made by Ultratech made purely to fight, he has energised blades that come from the back of his fist and was a great middle ground character. Not too fast, not too slow. Just right.  And we can’t forget Spinal. The reanimated skeleton warrior who was slow and had an amazing defensive game, but he was also equipped with a sword and shield lending him greater reach to compensate for his lack of speed. There was never any need for bars like the revenge gauge that you find in other titles, matches where decided like they were in the early Street Fighter days. Whoever was the better player instantly became the winner. There was no spamming fireballs or rapid freeze attacks, courtesy of Sub Zero. It was just an amazing game that needs to stay as true to the format as possible. A simple HD version of the game would please fan boys and girls the world over.

So with that comes the Comment Question: “What is the craziest dispute/confusion of copyright and(or) trademark you know of? Do you believe that the rules on Copyright/Trademark should be changed?

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