Sony hit with trademark suit

Sony has long been trying to reach out to the mainstream/casual gamer with games such as SingStar, Eyetoy, and Buzz!, but the latter may have gotten them in a bit of trouble. The trivia game Buzz! caught the attention of one company that thinks Sony’s family friendly trivia game is a little too similar.

Carlsbad, California-based Buzztime Entertainment, filed suit against Sony Computer Entertainment Europe in the Southern District of California last week which claims that Sony has violated some of their trademarks, such as the slogan "It’s time to get buzzing."

Although Buzztime does not officially hold the trademark for using the word "buzz" in gaming, it does hold trademarks for "entertainment in the nature of interactive games played via interactive television and an interactive global computer network," and "equipment for playing a plug and play game, namely, video game machines for use with televisions, video game interactive remote control units, video game cartridges, and interactive video game programs." Buzztime is accusing Sony of "malicious, fraudulent, knowing, willful, and deliberate" violation of the trademarks, as they claim that Sony is trying to market their games under the association of the original Buzztime published games.

Buzztime was established in 1985 and caters primarily to the restaurants and bars for trivia-based games. Also as part of their quiz services, Buzztimes offers trivia quizzes over mobile phones, digital cable and satellite systems, and even offers home versions (some of them Coleco-branded) that hook up to a TV and include differently colored wireless controllers, very similar to Buzz!’s setup.

As compensation for this suit, Buzztime is pleading the court for actual damages, punitive damages, legal fees, and an order to block SCEE’s pending trademarks registration from the US Patent and Trademark Office.