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Microsoft and Fox agree to let their Killer Instinct trademarks coexist

Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

Microsoft and Fox Television Studios have resolved their separate Killer Instinct claims — the companies mutually agreed this month to allow their trademarks to coexist, according to a filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The agreement comes four months after the office denied Microsoft's application for a Killer Instinct trademark, on the grounds that there would be "a likelihood of confusion" with Fox's trademark for the short-lived Killer Instinct TV series that premiered and was canceled in 2005. Microsoft had announced in September that it had renewed the Killer Instinct trademark.

Instead, Fox and Microsoft now "do not believe confusion is likely to result from concurrent use of their respective marks," since the trademarks would be used in entirely different circumstances. Under the terms of their new agreement, the companies have pledged not to object to each other's registration or use of the Killer Instinct name, and will "take reasonable measure ... to market and promote their respective goods and services in such a way as to mitigate any likelihood of confusion between them."

The Killer Instinct series of fighting games consists of the original Killer Instinct, which was released in 1994 for arcades and in 1995 on Super Nintendo and Game Boy; the 1996 arcade sequel, Killer Instinct 2; and the sequel's Nintendo 64 port from the same year, Killer Instinct Gold. All three titles were developed by Rare, a studio that Microsoft acquired in 2002.