Obligatory disclaimer: I am not a lawyer! So take anything I say about trademarks with the grain of salt.In checking on the status of Hasbro's trademark applications for "Rom" and "Rom the Spaceknight," I learned a little bit more about just what information the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has available throughout the registration process. It turns out that the USPTO had issues with every single one of Hasbro's applications. Letters were sent in January and Hasbro was given six months to respond. So we might know something by July 21!
While we're waiting, I thought I'd explain briefly the problems with the filings. First, in every single case Hasbro was told the classification they requested was too broad. Hasbro's lawyer(s) simply copied the description of the entire classes of goods they were applying for. The USPTO wants something more specific in each case. For example, rather than "games," they want something like "computer game consoles for use with an external display screen or monitor."
Second, all the trademarks for "Rom" were initially refused for being "merely descriptive." In other words, Hasbro can't trademark "Rom" for something involving "Read Only Memory" because it's a common descriptive term. Similarly, in all the "Rom the Spaceknight" applications, Hasbro was told they must disclaim the word "Rom" as part of the trademark. In other words, they can claim a specific, stylized logo including the word "Rom," but they can make no claim to the word itself. (I should point out that Hasbro did not submit any specific logos with their applications.) It turns out Casio already has a trademark on a "ROM" logo they use on memory cards for some electronic musical instruments, as seen below.
But the best refusal I've saved for last. Three of the four applications for "Rom the Spaceknight" were refused because of the registered trademark Marvel got for "Spaceknights" back in 2001! Yes, you read that right; Hasbro was refused because of Marvel's limited series featuring Rom's children. Oh, the irony! And unlike Parker Brothers/Hasbro, who let the original Rom trademark expire, Marvel applied for an extension in 2007, meaning Spaceknights should remain a registered trademark of Marvel until 2017, at which time they can apply for another ten-year extension.
Now as I said, Hasbro can refute the USPTO's refusals and answer their calls for clarification, but they're quickly running out of time. I don't know how much lag there is between the USPTO receiving materials and updating their database, but hopefully we'll see something by the end of next month. I promise you that once I know something, I'll share it.
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