15 February 2010

1-1/4 years down, 3 years to go on Rom trademark

Despite Hasbro's Rom trademark applications having seemingly been banished to bureaucratic limbo, there has actually been a small bit of news to report since the last update.

First, Hasbo did not respond within their deadline regarding their four "Rom the Spaceknight" filings, so the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has officially marked them as dead. Second, two of the "Rom" applications are still on hold, as reported last time.

Finally, the "Rom" applications, one for paper and office goods and the other for just about every game and toy you can think of, were published in the USPTO's Official Gazette on October 20, 2009 and no parties responded within the five-week deadline to object. If you'd like a personal copy of this four-pound, seven-ounce tome, the U.S. Government Printing Office will be happy to sell you one . . . for just $81! So Hasbro now has six months to submit proof of using the mark in commerce in order to secure it. Sounds good, right? We'll see ads for new Rom toys within six months, right? Well, no.

If Hasbro doesn't submit proof of use within six months, they can instead file for a six-month extension. So we'll know something in a year, right? Uh, no. They can file five of these extensions, meaning it could be three years before the Hasbro trademark saga finally comes to an end.

At this point, I hesitate to speculate any more on Hasbro's motives. In the blog comments, I'd previously argued that Hasbro's spending thousands of dollars on this surely meant they actually had some sort of plan. I'm no longer so optimistic. Perhaps this is simply a negotiating tool because Marvel or some other party (or even multiple parties) have approached them asking to license Rom. And they realized that to do so, they might need some better legal standing than, "we created this character in 1979 and the copyright is still ours." In any case, check back in six months or so for an update and prepare for a long wait for any resolution.

[Next trademark update]