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The real reason there's a lack of Elden Ring news

Last year saw the surprise announcement of Elden Ring, a collaboration between FromSoftware and George R.R. Martin. The idea of the folks behind Dark Souls and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice teaming up with the man who created Game of Thrones sounded too good to be true. Considering the fact that pretty much all news related to the title dried up in the last year, it actually appeared as though it was too good to be true. We haven't even seen a full trailer or a story synopsis for the much-anticipated fantasy action game. 

It was beginning to look like the game had been quietly canceled at some point. Luckily, we now know that is not at all the case. Unfortunately for FromSoftware and all of the fans looking forward to playing the game in the near future, it does appear that some legal snags are preventing the game from even being properly marketed.

What isn't readily obvious here is why the game has been held up at all. A series of trademarks and appeals related to the game have been filed by publisher Bandai Namco, but for some reason, the original patent filing was rejected. However, there isn't a clear reason for the rejection stated in any of the documents. Normally, when a copyright filing has seen this kind of pushback, it's due to the product or service bearing too close of a resemblance to something else that already exists. The United States Patent and Trademark Office can then contest the trademark filing, citing the kinds of changes the new product needs to make to its name or content in order to proceed and re-file. 

However, there are no claims of any kind in the available documents showing that FromSoftware infringed on any kind of existing property. In other words, it appears for all the world like there shouldn't have been any snag from an intellectual property standpoint. As speculated by Respawn First, this would seem to point to the idea that maybe there was something improperly filled out in the application. It would be a real bummer if a typo or something of that nature may be the reason why Elden Ring is being held up, but it's a very real possibility.

There appear to also be several different waiting periods between each step in the filing and appeal process. Of course, that's exactly what Bandai Namco did, publishing the application for opposition. This essentially means that anyone who objected to the trademark filing going forward had 30 days to respond to Bandai Namco's application. Naturally, this meant a longer waiting period. Then, once that 30 days had elapsed, it was onto yet another grueling wait for the publisher. 

Now, Bandai Namco has to wait another 11 weeks for the USPTO to issue what's called a Notice of Allowance, which will essentially give the company the go ahead, albeit with a few interesting caveats. Once the Notice of Allowance is issued, Bandai Namco has six months to either file for an extension or put out the game and file for a Statement of Use. This puts Bandai in the tricky spot of deciding if it wants to begin the marketing campaign for Elden Ring in earnest and release the game sometime this year, or if it needs a little more time to get the ball rolling.

It would make sense to file for an extension so that the company could properly launch a larger marketing campaign. However, Bandai Namco may not wish to run the risk of having the trademark get rejected again, starting this whole annoying process all over. 

Releasing the game would also line up with some of the rumors we've heard in the past surrounding this title. Games journalist Jason Schreier tweeted in May of last year that gamers should expect the release of Elden Ring sometime in 2020. 

There were also alleged leaks recently that stated the game was pretty much on track to release in the later part of this year. This leaker stated, "Game is completed (in terms of content) playable from beginning to end, they are at fixing bugs/optimizing stage + nextgen porting." They also claimed that the game was targeting a cross-gen release, with ports being prepped for the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5.

Of course, as with all rumors, that should be taken with a grain of salt. However, it doesn't sound entirely out of the realm of possibility, especially given what we now know about the hold up surrounding Elden Ring.