Did Sony try to trademark the term “Let’s Play”?

Claim: Sony attempted to trademark the title “Let’s Play” for streaming video game content.


Gamers have used the title “Let’s Play” (or LP) for their videos and screenshot series for years. A search on YouTube reveals 326,000 videos featuring gamers playing the fifth Elder Scrolls game using the title “Let’s Play Skyrim”.1 So fans were surprised in late 2015 when Sony Computer Entertainment filed a request with the US Patent and Trademark Office to secure exclusive use of the term.2

Let's Play Sony Trademark

For a trademark to receive legal protection, is must be distinctive.3. A distinctive trademark can be fanciful (like Xerox, a made-up word), arbitrary (like Apple, a real word but one unconnected to electronics), or suggestive (like Greyhound, which suggests speed in transportation). However, a trademark will not be granted for terms that are generic (like Mattress for a mattress company), or merely descriptive (like Bed and Breakfast).

The USPTO rejected Sony’s trademark application on January 25, 2016, considering Let’s Play to be a merely descriptive term.4 Sony is still legally permitted to use the term if it chooses, but must share with the millions of other video game content creators.

I could find no record of any public statement made by Sony regarding the trademark or its intended use.

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