Sony Buzz-ed with trademark suit

Trivia-focused Buzztime Entertainment claims SCEE's PlayStation 2 quiz games are infringing on its own line of products.

Along with titles like EyeToy and SingStar, Sony's Buzz! line of quiz games for the PlayStation 2 have been part of a concerted effort on the part of the electronics giant to court a more mainstream audience with its gaming console. However, one company already well-established in serving that sector's trivia needs thinks Sony's family friendly games are a little too familiar.

Here's what Buzz! looks like on shelves.

Carlsbad, California-based Buzztime Entertainment filed suit against Sony Computer Entertainment Europe in the Southern District of California last week, alleging that the Buzz! line of games and the "It's time to get buzzing" tagline violate several of its own trademarks. Established in 1985, Buzztime makes a line of electronic trivia games most commonly found in restaurants and bars, with an estimated 13 million players each month. The company also runs quiz services over mobile phones, digital cable and satellite systems, and even offers home versions (some of them Coleco-branded) that hook up to a TV and include differently colored wireless controllers.

Buzztime does not have a trademark on the word "buzz" for use in games, but it does have a variety of similar trademarks registered as far back as 2001, including "Buzztime," "Buzzhead," "Share the Buzz," and "Buzzkids." SCEE has filed for a trio of trademarks for "Buzz!" (one with the exclamation point, two without). Each of SCEE's marks has been published for opposition, though none of them are officially registered yet.

This is one of Buzztime's home system bundles.

The Buzztime Entertainment trademarks cover uses of the terms for "entertainment in the nature of interactive games played via interactive television and an interactive global computer network," and "equipment for playing a plug and play game, namely, video game machines for use with televisions, video game interactive remote control units, video game cartridges, and interactive video game programs," among other things.

Buzztime is accusing SCEE of selling similar products to similar audiences, sometimes through similar channels with the intention of misleading consumers into believing the Buzz! series of games has some association with Buzztime. The suit also alleges that SCEE is guilty of "malicious, fraudulent, knowing, willful, and deliberate" violation of its trademarks.

In addition to the recall and destruction of all infringing products, Buzztime is asking the court for actual damages, punitive damages, legal fees, and an order to the US Patent and Trademark Office not to register SCEE's pending trademarks.

As of press time, SCEE representatives had not returned GameSpot's requests for comment.

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88 comments
DeaDG0D
DeaDG0D

I know I'm way late to this (just decided to look up NTN Buzztime on Wikipedia and found this article cited), but if anyone should be filing a lawsuit against Sony it should be Jeopardy, where you "buzz in" to answer... 

  I should note that the first time I heard of Buzztime was when I went to my first bar/pub seven years ago and only heard about Buzz!  from PS Home about three years ago and didn't think they were connected to one another either way

mulletman39
mulletman39

I agree with 'lingtong15', 'Blackstaff' & 'Trigun0006' (aswell as numerous others)! ...I think the only reason they are suing is to get cash considering Buzz! is doing really well nowadays & about to go on PS3...I mean if they were that annoyed.....why didn't they sue Sony like 5 years ago or w/e!? p.s. seriously who has ACTUALLY heard of Buzztime or w/e before!? meh...

kmanza
kmanza

Shh! Just keep quite and let Buzztime Entertainment go after Sony and spend a lot of money and get the suit thrown out of court. Just go to http://www.gamespot.com/news/6139411.html and you will find Sony has nothing to do do wit Buzz! except for having the game published on it's platform.

notquitesure
notquitesure

"similar " thats the BUZZ! word :P sort it out.. similar isnt the same we'll sue them because its nearly coping us but not quite and see how far that goes lol LAME!

lingtong15
lingtong15

Buzztime-Money sueing bastards....come on, alot of people don't even know of Buzztime and Buzz! has been out for a while now. From what i've seen i think Buzztime have a major loss in sales because of Buzz! and now they want payback on Sony...just tell Buzztime to f***& o** And get a life

daveg1
daveg1

oh no not another law suit...sony seems to be a huge target for these people who just file suit after suit...

ElectrolightSH
ElectrolightSH

$ony is still stealing from other company's? I thought they would have stopped that by now.

DarkStreetDev
DarkStreetDev

I think I will file a patent for any kind if console ever to be made. And then sue anybody who ever makes a console again.

ChinoJamesKeene
ChinoJamesKeene

America really needs better patant law, so much court time wasted with random suing.

mike62884
mike62884

Aw come on! Another suit at Sony, over a quiz game? Seriously, come on! It doesn't take a genius to come up with similar ideas for the same genre, it's not like it's a blatant disregard for copyrights, trademarks and patents. Sometimes people solve problems are develop tools that are the same, you don't see tool manufacturers suing each other over table saws that look and operate the same.

brucies_bubbles
brucies_bubbles

Never heard of Buzztime, but love the buzz games. Thought Americans hated Buzz. I know the European countries love it. Buzz is a great party game

GunGriffin
GunGriffin

Sigh more third parties want their cut of the new PS3s profits now that Sony is making head way. So sad if you ask me. Did this kind of stuff not happen when Microsoft first got the Xbox360 out the door and started to make cash off it? Seems these valtures like to wait till the next big thing makes some cash and then jump on board by sewing the company that makes it. Thats a bad practice if you ask me. What a way to make a name for your self by being a greedy casino man with so much money it's not even funny yet you take on a big company like Sony? This will get dropped big time.

afrothunda312
afrothunda312

the buzz! games have been out for a long time, don't you think that these buzztime people would have picked up on it a bit sooner?

lanista
lanista

Reminds me of one of the commercials on a radio station in GTA III "...See, the great thing about this country is you can sue anyone for pretty much anything! And you'll probably win! Or at least get a settlement..." Hilarious when I first heard it, but it seems true

norton88
norton88

Whats next? someone finds that the PS2 memory card is a rip off of a tiny piece of bread???

R-Force
R-Force

This is beyond lame! :roll:

bardkieran
bardkieran

Let's go to the pub and get a buzz!

ButtonBasherBW
ButtonBasherBW

Sony must be said to be an easy target or something. Everyone's after them! So why didn't this come up with the first Buzz? Seems suss.

raverrozza
raverrozza

Yuck _Too if i was being paid that much by the hour id take 6 hours to take a piss!LOL!

Dav_id83
Dav_id83

Oh come on how long did it take for them to dam well notice if it did look familar. How many BUZZ games are they now for PS2 I've seen 3 I think it's taken them that long to finally catch up. It's all a load of crap it's a smaller company who's product will probably find in a bargain bin asking for money cause there running out. If they wanted it to so dam good marketing for it would of been a lot better.

SonyGameHolder7
SonyGameHolder7

never heard of Buzztime, seems a trend though, suing Sony

Yuck_Too
Yuck_Too

It takes lawyers like 6-hours to read and turn a single page of their legal nonsense. Never mind how long it takes to get everything together to actually sue someone like Sony.

Jokul
Jokul

Wow Buzz does look a lot like Buzztime, does seem to be a bit off a rip-off

adamska_br
adamska_br

I never even heard of Buzztime before this... I wonder why...

peeweeshift
peeweeshift

its a valid thing to sue sony on but it has been so long, which is what has dissapointed me. these buzz games have been out so long. it makes you think they were waiting to get their moneys worth

Azwhtknight
Azwhtknight

I would say that as long as it had a different style of game-play and showed minimal (if any) resemblance to the Buzztime games, then it is stupid to sue Sony over a " selling similar products to similar audiences, sometimes through similar channels" since lots of companies sell similar products (just look at all the tetris knock-offs). Now if the game is indeed IDENTICAL to the Buzztime products, (and that is a big if) then I can fully understand the reasoning behind the lawsuit and I would then support it.

theKSMM
theKSMM

I'm not sure why so many people are dismissing this as trivial. If one of GameSpot's readers had developed a new product, trademarked it and marketed it, only to have Sony create a suspiciously similar product, I'm sure he would be none too pleased. If it were my game, I would certainly sue. Sony's lawyers don't seem to be doing due diligence when it comes to these patents and trademarks. It seems like they run afoul of many of them.

puppiemaster
puppiemaster

Never heard of buzztime before, I'm great at Buzz though, but they need to stop putting such easy questions in the game or put together a game thats not for retards

darren05r
darren05r

'misleading consumers into believing the Buzz! series of games has some association with Buzztime' yeh right as if anyone wants to go out and buy a buzztime product over a sony one.

Kraige
Kraige

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

lhardwick692
lhardwick692

look at it this way--the wwf--world wrestling federation --was named this for years untile another wwf company sued wwf because they used it first becaue it was for the world wildlife foundation--so the wwf changed name to wwe--such petty little things these days--they talk about how society makes frivolous lawsuits and how its against the law to do such thing may i add-- but yet here we are more frvolous lawsuits from other companies----all i say is this-- if buzz was their patent word then i guess military needs to sue buzztime beause i am sure the buzz cut hair cuts were around before buzztime and i am sure they said--its buzztime--when getting your hair shaved off--how far is these companies willing to go to make a name for themselves..

Irve
Irve

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

blueflamedino
blueflamedino

is not as bad as what the other posters say, this seems to have some legitamacy

jackanderson
jackanderson

Complete idiocy. Useless attempt at trying to make some money. I expect it'll blow over in a week or two.

Waiting_4_U
Waiting_4_U

This reminds me of when Spike Lee wanted to sue Spike TV for using the name Spike.

Guitargamer1
Guitargamer1

Seems like everybody is trying to sue everybody these days. If they really have 13 million users a month then buzztime must be making a decent profit in some way, shape or form. Plus how many people even own the buzz trivia game? It looks kinda cool but I know it can't be anywhere near 13 million. They might barely sold a million I would guess. If casual game makers are suing casual game makers then what has the gaming world come to?

Tremblay343
Tremblay343

This is almost as stupid as the people suing mircosoft for live shutting down.

FoxMcCloudDS
FoxMcCloudDS

God this is the dumbest lawsuite ever. I hope whoever buzztime ceo is feels really stupid with this one. Go Sony on this one. haha.

trigun0006
trigun0006

Buzz is barily even a word, its an onomatopia, less than a word. who gives a crap??? its another attempt to get a few more dollars away from the success of sonys game line. the problem with makeing something suceessful is thats when people start trying to get money out of it.

Gokuja
Gokuja

towelie892 Trademarking real words is BS I agree. especially with words like Buzz. They can't own it. and their word isn't even just buzz, its buzzline and w/e else I honestly don't care. Sure it was stupid on Sony's part to not think of something else and if they really did want to associate the game with the trivia line buzzline brand then they should have talked it out between the 2 companies. but that doesnt excuse what I was talking about. Its a freakin word. as long as its not exact it shouldn't matter. And they don't hold a trademark on the word "buzz" so I don't see how they can sue anyway just because they have others with the word buzz in it. Its not the same thing

Center
Center

hmm, can't beat Sony, huh? Well, what do you call the lack of rumble support in the first year of PS3? Sony cutting costs?

ColdfireTrilogy
ColdfireTrilogy

LOL you cant beat Sony, even if you have a good offensive ... it just really isn't feasible.

towelie892
towelie892

Sorry for the double post, but I realize I misread the article; I thought they DID have a trademark on the word 'buzz' as well as the other terms.

bcrenton
bcrenton

This is interesting - I am quite sure Buzztime entertainment has merit in their suit. Hope they have a lot of money, as that is all Sony will do, throw money and lawyers at this (sniff) problem.

quietguy
quietguy

This is actually starting to confirm my suspicions that we're about to go through a phase where majority of small electronics and entertainment businesses are finding their own pie of the market being eaten away from the Big 3 (Sony, Nintendo, & M$). Most of you probably don't remember, but the late-70s up to the early-90s saw an orgy of mass electronic gimmicks by small businesses. Fortunately for Nintendo and Sony, they managed to hit a vibe, with one of their products, in all of us gamers (excluding M$ since they came into the console business in 2000) that propelled them into the big league of entertainment. Since then all 3 have had third party developers burning through ideas faster than stomach acid can chew through chicken fat. And unfortunately, this is what we're left with... they drum up this idea. I do wonder how do we even survive as gamers to today.