Let’s Play videos are everywhere these days, with many of the top channels on Youtube being dedicated to such videos and a growing number of people making their living from creating them. Enter Sony, who are now attempting to file a trademark for this popular community term.
The filing was discovered this week by members of the NeoGaf forums, despite apparently having been originally filed back in October 2015. The filing describes “Electronic transmission and streaming of video games via global and local computer networks; streaming of audio, visual, and audiovisual material via global and local computer networks”. Sound familiar? This seems to almost perfectly describe the existing idea of a ‘let’s play’ within the gaming community. It would appear then, that Sony is trying to claim ownership of a venerable community term, using the system of trademarks as a means.
Let’s play is hardly a new term either, with the term’s origin able to be traced back to the Something Awful forums in around 2007, with the term possibly even older. These early let’s play forum threads were far simpler than the now-common videos, taking the form of forum threads filled with screenshots from the game and captions, with the player sometimes offering community members choice on in-game decisions between updates. Over the years, they have slowly moved to the video and vocal commentary form that is well known, with a site dedicated to archiving Let’s Plays in either form and Youtube channels containing only Let’s Play videos. It is doubtful that the community will go silently should Sony try to appropriate the term.
It is unclear what Sony intend to do with this trademark, with some theories including usage in an advertising campaign or as part of a streaming application for their gaming systems. For now, the trademark process seems to be stalled in the status of “non-final action”, which means an examiner has found issues in the application and sent it back. It is certainly concerning that Sony is trying to take this term from the community, a move that may prove to be an unpopular mistake should the trademark be acquired.