Weird the way things happen? In one month from today, March 19th, Yu Suzuki will take the stage at GDC to talk about Shenmue, Ryo Hazuki has made his return to SEGA’s All-Stars Racing games and now SEGA loses the trademark for the franchise in the USA? Seems like a step back for fans and it seems to be true.
According to the trademark page, the reason they dropped the trademark was “because registrant did not file an acceptable declaration under Section 8.” So what is Section 8? You can read it all here, but the whole thing revolves around SEGA not coming with a ‘declaration’ on why they should keep it and why they haven’t been making commercial uses of it. Though, I think this is a mistake since SEGA technically is making ‘use’ of the franchise with his appearances in recent games and even merchandise. I have a feeling this trademark issue is something SEGA is already working on fixing.
Update: It should be noted that the database shows two dead trademarks for Shenmue. One, filed on February 18, 1999 and cancelled on January 17, 2009, pertains to “computer game programs and prerecorded discs and ROMs for computer game programs”. This is likely referring to the original Shenmue for the SEGA Dreamcast.
The one that was cancelled on Valentine’s Day pertains to “entertainment services, namely, providing an online computer game”. This one was filed on August 25, 2003. The now cancelled Shenmue Online was officially announced in 2004, meaning this recent dead trademark is likely for that game and the potential for games like it.