Activision's Crash Bandicoot Trademark Will Lapse in 2021

#1 Posted by charizard1605 (58972 posts) -

...unless they do something with the property before then.

A fascinating article on DualShockers discusses how Activision needs to justify its ownership of the Crash Bandicoot IP before 2021, or the trademark lapses.

Yet, Activision can’t just sit on Crash Bandicoot forever. While trademarks can be renewed, andCrash‘s has indeed been renewed in 2011, there are legalities involved that ensure that a company can’t keep a name forever unless it actually uses it.

The infamous (between trademark holders, at least) Section 8 of the Lanham Act dictates that a company needs to provide a declaration of use or excusable non-use and a specimen of said use to the United States Patent and Trademark Office between the 5th and 6th year after the registration of a trademark, then between the 9th and 10th year, and subsequently every ten years.

If the company fails to provide that kind of documentation, the USPTO simply cancels the trademark and it becomes fair game.

Former Activision parent company Vivendi Games provided its latest declaration of use in 2011 (the current trademark was first registered in 2001), using the Crash Bandicoot Action Pack for PS2 as its specimen.

The next date on the calendar is quite far in the future, 2021, but by that date Activision will definitely need to do something with the franchise, or they will incur in the serious risk to lose the trademark.

Currently the publisher sells four Crash Bandicoot classics on the PSN, but they’re all exclusively for PSP and PS3 (they’ve been proven to run on Vita, but they’re not supported officially, and that’s what matters in in legal terms). In 2021 we’ll be way past the end of the life cycle of both platforms, which means that that offering will most probably be not usable anymore as a specimen for a declaration of use.

There’s actually a relevant precedent for this: earlier this year Sega lost control of the Shen Mue trademark in the U.S. because they failed to file their declaration of use (since they weren’t really using it) and didn’t find a valid excuse to justify the lack of thereof. To this date they still didn’t manage to get it back, and the only way to do so would be to actually do something with the franchise.

So this kind of expiry date on the Crash Bandicoot trademark is actually good news. Why? Because it means we will see the former mascot and icon returning in some form or the other in the next seven years:

  • Activision releases a new Crash Bandicoot game within the next seven years, to continue ownership of the trademark. The flipside is, the game does not have to be a PlayStation exclusive, and it certainly doesn't have to be a platformer. It could be a free to play endless runner on iOS, and it would still count.
  • Activision releases a new Crash Bandicoot media property in the next seven years (not a game). This could mean a new comic, cartoon, movie, anything- in all cases, Activision gets to keep the property.
  • Activision puts Crash Bandicoot in Skylanders, which effectively gives it a justifiable reason to continue ownership of the trademark, and also brings Crash back in a game closest to his roots- a platformer.
  • Activision realizes it can't meaningfully utilize the Crash IP at all, so it just sells it, either to some other company that is more likely to utilize it (or else why would they buy it?) or, as is most probable, to Sony, who are then free to do whatever they want with him and own their own mascot.'
  • Activision does nothing- the trademark lapses; Sony, or someone else, files a dispute, to try and wrest control.

In all cases, we are going to see Crash Bandicoot in some form or the other in the next seven years.

#2 Posted by DJ-Lafleur (34179 posts) -

Crash bandicoot suit DLC for Call of Duty confirmed.

#3 Edited by TrappedInABox91 (794 posts) -

Crash Bandicoot may as well be dead If it comes in 2022-23. Beyond dead actually. It may as well act like a new IP lol

Even it comes in the next 4 years, it may as well act like a new IP, No hope other than that.

#4 Posted by PyratRum (561 posts) -

K

#5 Edited by Basinboy (11278 posts) -

Alright, how many threads can we expect about this over the next 7 years?

Was it ever confirmed SCE didn't obtain the property (all I recall is an Acti exec denying that the IP was being sold)? The TM listing shows the last known holder was Activision and presumably still is.

@DJ-Lafleur said:

Crash bandicoot suit DLC for Call of Duty confirmed.

#6 Posted by inb4uall (5806 posts) -

Honestly what does Activision gain from having the IP? Crash isn't a game they can turn into a yearly release like Cod or Guitar Hero.

#7 Edited by SolidTy (44568 posts) -

Eh. (Strange timing as I just posted about Naughty Dog and Crash a day or two ago...)

I don't care what Activision does. Crash is in his Fat Elvis phase which I confirmed years ago after playing those post Naughty Dog Crash games in the PS2 era after the ND days and later in the 360 era.

I have no interest in Activision trying to make another Crash or some other third rate developer getting their hands on the IP. I would be interested in a top studio getting the Crash IP (especially the creators of Crash Naughty Dog), but that's only because I mostly follow studios/dev houses and not brands/franchises. Unfortunately, Activision has 0 studios that I have any interest in and I haven't bought a game from them in years. I would skip over an Activision Crash Bandicoot game as I have no faith in their average studio, cookie cutter developer houses.

#8 Posted by foxhound_fox (89457 posts) -

They'll do something in 2020 and have it renewed for another decade.

Not sure why Sony sold it in the first place. It was one of their more unique IP's on the PS.

#9 Edited by SolidTy (44568 posts) -

@foxhound_fox said:

They'll do something in 2020 and have it renewed for another decade.

Not sure why Sony sold it in the first place. It was one of their more unique IP's on the PS.

Sony didn't sell it. Not sure after a decade+ how that fallacious misinformation still lingers. Sony did certainly learn a lesson as did Naughty Dog as far as the value of building a strong stable of 1st party studios for the Playstation brand back in those early days.

---

Instead of rewriting my post, I'll just copy/paste another one of my educational and fortuitously timed posts from Yesterday (or two days ago) where yet another user said something similar to yourself:

At one time, Naughty Dog were a young developer and they didn't sell the rights, they made a deal with Universal to create something new and they did just that. Universal gave them funds and ND used those funds to create Crash. It got ND started and Universal got a grade A game when Naughty Dog created from scratch, Crash Bandicoot. ND was independent. Universal treated them like shit (at one point they were making games in 100-130 degree heat with no AC, shirtless in the hallways as their computers would shut down due to the heat!) and they were very fortunate company to have Naughty Dog crank out four Crash games before finally breaking free of that slavery situation they found themselves in.

If you REALLY want to know Naughty's Dog's story, here's a link:

The Rise of Naughty Dog - Part 1

http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/2012-06-25-the-rise-of-naughty-dog-part-1

Rubin: Naughty Dog made the decision to not renew its deal with Universal Interactive. By the time that Crash 3 rolled around, Universal's role had shrunk to nothing. Sony was financing and publishing the games, and additionally providing valuable worldwide production advice. Mark Cerny, who started at Universal and was a large contributor to Crash's success, had become an independent contractor and continued to work with us. And, of course, Naughty Dog was doing the heavy lifting of developing the titles. Universal was simply being paid for the intellectual property rights.

Andy and I decided that we were not willing to split the developers' share of revenue with an entity which was contributing nothing to the mix, which was extremely difficult to work with, and which was actively trying to take credit for Crash's success. So, we announced that we were not renewing our contract and we were leaving the lot after Crash 3. At that point, Universal Interactive's management lost their minds.

We were forced to develop Crash 3 in the hallways of their offices. Although they still had a contract to give us office space, they decided to make our lives as miserable as possible. We were under extreme deadlines for a Christmas release, so we couldn't move the team in the middle of the project. We had to stay in those hallways until the game was done. Naughty Dog was working 16- to 20-hour days that year with no weekends. To make matters worse, Universal refused to pay for the air conditioning in their offices, and thus their hallways, after hours. Los Angeles summers, especially in the San Fernando Valley, are extremely hot. At night, and especially during the weekend, the heat on the thirty-fourth floor passed 100 degrees. This is not an exaggeration. We had to buy thermometers and measure the temperature constantly because the heat was affecting more than our comfort. Our servers were going down because the internal temperatures of the hard drives were going over 130 degrees. And the building wouldn't let us bring in portable airconditioning units, so we were forced to cool the servers by blowing air over a bucket of ice with a fan. That solved the problem until we managed to disguise an air-conditioning unit as a mini-refrigerator and sneak it in.I could tell endless tales of Universal Interactive's spite and contractual misbehavior that year

I could tell endless tales of Universal Interactive's spite and contractual misbehavior that year, but that's all history. They tried to break us. They couldn't. Although we all worked shirtless at desks in hallways that year, we got Crash 3 done. To put all of this in perspective, Crash 3 was guaranteed to make Universal hundreds of millions of dollars in profit. Yet, as a company, they didn't have the decency to accept our decision as independents to chart our own destiny. And they were vindictive enough to risk their financial windfall had their nonsense caused us to fail. If Universal had been more humane and reasonable, it is possible that Naughty Dog would still be making Crash products today.

The day Crash 3 was finished, Naughty Dog moved off the Universal lot and started work on a kart game. We didn't have characters attached then. The first versions had nondescript block-headed kart riders. Our relationship with Sony was always incredibly close. We offered to make the game based on Crash characters, if they dealt with Universal and obtained the rights. At that point, Naughty Dog couldn't even speak to Universal's management they were so... apoplectic. Sony managed to do so, and thus our first title after leaving Universal was a final Crash product: Crash Team Racing.

At the same time, Naughty Dog decided to start fresh. While most of Naughty Dog worked on Crash Team Racing, Andy, Stephen White, and Mark Cerny started working on a next-generation engine for what eventually became the PlayStation 2. Andy and I risked $4 million of Naughty Dog's cash into starting development of Jak and Daxter...

#10 Edited by getyeryayasout (7771 posts) -

Same reason Sony gave us the Amazing Spiderman reboot so soon after the Toby Maguire flicks. Arrested Development even makes fun of the practice in the Netflix exclusive season.

#11 Posted by getyeryayasout (7771 posts) -

@SolidTy said:

Eh.

I don't care what Activision does. Crash is in his Fat Elvis phase and after playing those games after the ND days, I have no interest in Activision trying to make another or some other third rate developer.

Fat EP is my favorite EP. This shit is so bitter-sweet, fat, botched facial surgery, and nursing a brutal prescription habit, but still The King. I get misty eyed every time I watch it. Especially when I've been drinking.

#12 Edited by charizard1605 (58972 posts) -
@foxhound_fox said:

They'll do something in 2020 and have it renewed for another decade.

Not sure why Sony sold it in the first place. It was one of their more unique IP's on the PS.

Dude, I don't think Sony ever owned it to begin with. I believe @SolidTy knows more about this issue though (he wrote a pretty good post about PlayStation era Crash Bandicoot some days ago that I'm trying to find).

EDIT: Ah, I see he's already posted it.

#13 Edited by B4X (5624 posts) -

@charizard1605:

Could they just release a Arcade rehash bundle to float the trademark?

#14 Posted by Demonjoe93 (9676 posts) -

Fuck. Why doesn't Activision just sell it to someone? It's not like they're doing anything with it...

#15 Edited by santoron (7792 posts) -

@foxhound_fox said:

They'll do something in 2020 and have it renewed for another decade.

Not sure why Sony sold it in the first place. It was one of their more unique IP's on the PS.

I don't believe they ever owned it to begin with, let alone sold it. IIRC from looking for info in the past, the series was owned by Universal, who had signed ND up to a 3 game contract after seeing their earlier work. A year after development began, the first Crash was shown to Sony who then signed on as Publisher.

After years of mismanaging the series in its various post-ND forms, Universal then sold the IP to Activision as they shifted away from direct game development several years ago.

If I had to bet, I'd go with some sort of Crash release in 2016 for the 20 year anniversary, as we've had rumors to that effect over the past year. Whether we get a new game, a remake, a reboot, or simply an HD collection, who knows?

I agree with your sentiment though, Activision won't let the series slide. They'll put out some crappy Crash endless runner on smartphones if they need to and be good for another two decades. The series has sold far too many copies to let lapse for free.

EDIT: That's what I get for not reading all the comments first. @SolidTy has the definitive scoop, as usual. Thanks for the history lesson!

#16 Posted by charizard1605 (58972 posts) -

@b4x said:

@charizard1605:

Could they just release a Arcade rehash bundle to float the trademark?

Yes, a re-release of the games on Vita, Xbox One, PS4, Wii U, 3DS, PC, will also renew the trademark from what I understand.

#17 Posted by B4X (5624 posts) -

@charizard1605 said:

@b4x said:

@charizard1605:

Could they just release a Arcade rehash bundle to float the trademark?

Yes, a re-release of the games on Vita, Xbox One, PS4, Wii U, 3DS, PC, will also renew the trademark from what I understand.

I'm miss the Crash nostalgia. I wish a competent developer would get their hands on the franchise. I figured Activision had many ways to trademark hell the IP.

Maybe they will do something worthwhile with it...

Big crash fan on the PS1.

#18 Posted by lamprey263 (24477 posts) -

Nobody really cares if they see another Crash Bandicoot game again. And anybody pretending too is just a poser, like someone going "oh, look at me referencing something old". I mean sure we all get our nostalgia goggles from time to time but nothing will make what was fun then relevant again for this franchise. And we already got Knack, basically Crash Bandicoot's spiritual successor, only reason people picked that up is they were just cows being cows or there was nothing else to pick up.

#19 Posted by ninjapirate2000 (3107 posts) -

Open world Crash Bandicoot? I'd hope they would style it after the new Rayman.

#20 Posted by PapaTrop (1643 posts) -

Skylanders Crash Bandicoot

#21 Edited by charizard1605 (58972 posts) -

@ninjapirate2000 said:

Open world Crash Bandicoot? I'd hope they would style it after the new Rayman.

A 2D sidescrolling Crash?

#22 Posted by ninjapirate2000 (3107 posts) -

@charizard1605 said:

@ninjapirate2000 said:

Open world Crash Bandicoot? I'd hope they would style it after the new Rayman.

A 2D sidescrolling Crash?

Yesh.

#23 Edited by santoron (7792 posts) -

@lamprey263 said:

Nobody really cares if they see another Crash Bandicoot game again. And anybody pretending too is just a poser, like someone going "oh, look at me referencing something old". I mean sure we all get our nostalgia goggles from time to time but nothing will make what was fun then relevant again for this franchise. And we already got Knack, basically Crash Bandicoot's spiritual successor, only reason people picked that up is they were just cows being cows or there was nothing else to pick up.

...

I mean, where do you even begin when confronting something this wrong?

You know what? Screw it, That's enough internets for me today...

#24 Posted by nintendoboy16 (27271 posts) -

@DJ-Lafleur said:

Crash bandicoot suit DLC for Call of Duty confirmed.

Or eventually throwing him into Skylanders, crossing over with Spyro again.

#25 Posted by nintendoboy16 (27271 posts) -

@inb4uall said:

Honestly what does Activision gain from having the IP? Crash isn't a game they can turn into a yearly release like Cod or Guitar Hero.

Change Guitar Hero to Skylanders. The former they haven't bothered with in years.

#26 Edited by trugs26 (5675 posts) -

@DJ-Lafleur said:

Crash bandicoot suit DLC for Call of Duty confirmed.

That would be a hilarious way to get around the situation XD

#27 Edited by JangoWuzHere (16804 posts) -

They can make a crappy mobile game

Problem solved

#28 Posted by Demonjoe93 (9676 posts) -

@lamprey263 said:

Nobody really cares if they see another Crash Bandicoot game again. And anybody pretending too is just a poser, like someone going "oh, look at me referencing something old". I mean sure we all get our nostalgia goggles from time to time but nothing will make what was fun then relevant again for this franchise. And we already got Knack, basically Crash Bandicoot's spiritual successor, only reason people picked that up is they were just cows being cows or there was nothing else to pick up.

lol

#29 Posted by stuff238 (807 posts) -

I don't know what to believe. I don't care about the legal stuff. All I want is Crash Bandicoot 4 on Playstation 4. I would love if Naughty Dog made it, but would be satisfied with Sony bend or whatever with ND's help to make it.

#30 Posted by SolidTy (44568 posts) -

@getyeryayasout said:

@SolidTy said:

Eh.

I don't care what Activision does. Crash is in his Fat Elvis phase and after playing those games after the ND days, I have no interest in Activision trying to make another or some other third rate developer.

Fat EP is my favorite EP. This shit is so bitter-sweet, fat, botched facial surgery, and nursing a brutal prescription habit, but still The King. I get misty eyed every time I watch it. Especially when I've been drinking.

Quite remarkable. He was the one and only. :)

#31 Posted by DEadliNE-Zero0 (3403 posts) -

@lamprey263 said:

Nobody really cares if they see another Crash Bandicoot game again. And anybody pretending too is just a poser, like someone going "oh, look at me referencing something old". I mean sure we all get our nostalgia goggles from time to time but nothing will make what was fun then relevant again for this franchise. And we already got Knack, basically Crash Bandicoot's spiritual successor, only reason people picked that up is they were just cows being cows or there was nothing else to pick up.

Not sure if serious.

#32 Posted by super600 (30821 posts) -

@stuff238 said:

I don't know what to believe. I don't care about the legal stuff. All I want is Crash Bandicoot 4 on Playstation 4. I would love if Naughty Dog made it, but would be satisfied with Sony bend or whatever with ND's help to make it.

If sony ever gets the crash ip Naughty Dog won't be making any game in that franchise. They mostly focus on games like TLOU and Uncharted now a days.

#33 Posted by AcidTango (639 posts) -


Activision doesn't care about Crash. All they do now is milk Call Of Duty and some Spiderman games. Besides Destiny, Activision doesn't even bother to release new IP's or hell even their older ip's as well. Seriously it's mostly just COD for them now.