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[UPDATE] The Last Guardian canned? Trademark 'Abandoned', Sony says all's well

UPDATE: Game Informer's Jim Reilly has tweeted with an official comment from Sony, which reads: "The project is still in development. Nothing new to report at this time."

ORIGINAL: The Last Guardian was announced in 2009 as the third title by legendary developer Team Ico. In the months and years since, the title has had a couple of private showings, but recent events have left us totally in the dark. It's been troubled times for Team Ico; lead designer Fumito Ueda left the project back in November and The Last Guardian has since devolved to "development hell" status (despite Sony's repeat claims that it's doing just fine).

It seems the worries arent over yet, as the United States Patent Office recently listed the trademark for The Last Guardian, which was first filed in June 2009, as "ABANDONED - NO STATEMENT OF USE FILED". Furthermore, the trademark is now open to outside applicants for only $159. The change was first spotted by PSLS.

What does this mean for Sony and Team ICO? Essentially, the product is either canned or buried so deep in development troubles that Sony Computer Entertainment America couldn't be bothered to keep the USPO updated on its progress or re-file to keep the trademark in their possession. That said, the USPO listing goes on to state:

"CAUTION: Although federal registration for this particular filing is inactive, the mark may still enjoy common law rights, or may have been applied for again in a separate application. Further research may be warranted to determine where this mark is truly abandoned in commerce."

Does this mean there's hope for The Last Guardian yet? We sure hope so, and we'll keep you updated on this breaking development as we hear more. In the meantime, sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts on the matter.