According to Trademarkia.com, Sony have allowed their US Trademark application for the name "The Last Guardian" to expire, a status that the site describe as "Abandonment".
The Last Guardian, originally revealed at E3 in 2009, is the next game from Team ICO - the developers behind the very highly regarded ICO and Shadow of the Colossus. A third-person action adventure, the player must explore the environment and interact with the huge beast known as Trico. Since its announcement, fan anticipation for the title has been high.
The purpose of a Trademark, according to Trademarkia, is "to prevent competitors of your business from stealing your business name, logo, or slogan." That doesn't necessarily mean that Sony have no intent of using the name, however, as IP attorney Eric Chad explained to Game Informer this morning.
"Trademark law is pretty tricky because, while you don’t need to register a trademark with the government in order to sue others for infringing it, registering it does provide certain benefits that make enforcing your trademark earlier. The abandonment that has taken place here is not of trademark rights but rather of Sony’s trademark application."
Sony's releasing of this application could be a mistake, or it could mean that the game may release under a different name; it may also mean that the game is not planned for release outside of Japan, or that it has been cancelled. Which of these it ultimately proves to be is unknowable, however - according to a tweet from Game Informer's Jim Reilly - it seems unlikely that it's the latter:
Sony on The Last Guardian: "The project is still in development. Nothing new to report at this time."
The Last Guardian has undergone several challenges during development, including the departure of key creative talent Fumito Ueda last December. Exactly what this latest revelation means for the future of the title is unclear; until Sony update us, anything other than the fact that the Trademark registration application has expired is pure speculation.