WOW expansion unmasked

Blizzard patents "Wrath of the Lich King" with US Patent and Trademark Office, all but making new expansion's title official.

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Earlier this week, a product listing appeared in the online database of German software ratings board Unterhaltungssoftware Selbstkontrolle (USK) for a World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King "GC-demo." The listing led many to speculate that Blizzard would be showing off the next expansion in its popular massively multiplayer online role-playing game at this year's Games Convention in Leipzig, which runs August 23-26, if not sooner at BlizzCon later this week. Not long after the news broke, the Wrath of the Lich King listing mysteriously disappeared from USK's database.

However, as the saying goes, the tighter a secret is squeezed, the easier it slips through the cracks. The latest evidence signaling that Blizzard's next expansion is nigh comes by way of the online database of the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Filed under the word mark "Wrath of the Lich King," a trademark for the name was issued to Blizzard on July 28. Wrath of the Lich King was submitted with a filing basis of 1B, which, according to US Trademark Law, signifies "intent-to-use." According to the USPTO, "An 'intent to use' application must include a sworn statement (usually in the form of a declaration) that applicants have a bona fide intention to use the mark in commerce." [emphasis in original]

If Blizzard uses BlizzCon to unveil a new WOW expansion, the move won't be unprecedented. At BlizzCon 2005, The Burning Crusade made its official debut, though its presence had been made well known several months prior through job listings on the developer's Web site, and by a missive from lead producer Shane Dabiri on WOW's official forums. BlizzCon 2007 kicks off tomorrow at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California. Check back with GameSpot for more from the event, and probably, the big reveal for World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King.

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