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August 8, 2011 / gavinlaw

How to Find Out What the Next Expansion is for Your Favorite Games

by Tony Guo

Before I entered law school, I was an avid fan of World of Warcraft or in nerd WoW. I would spend hours roaming the virtual lands with my elite guild. My guild comprised of my business school roommate, a film student suitemate, the guy down the hall, and several people I honestly have never met. We used our New York University education to increase our guild’s influence across the WoW universe. The business school friend was in charge of the guild’s gold. The film friend was in charge of our battle formations. The guy down the hall was, well, the guy down the hall. Eventually we all stopped playing WoW that year. I gained one valuable skill from my WoW experience: the ability to predict the next expansion of a game. In the gaming community, this ability can impress many people. How did I do this? I used TESS.

TESS is short for Trademark Electronic Search System. On Tess, you can search for trademarks by owner. What happens is gaming companies like Blizzard file for expansion trademarks before release. There is substantial danger in releasing the expansion first and then filing for the trademark. Although trademark squatters are not likely to win, they can delay or make the trademark process more expensive.

WoW’s first expansion, Burning Crusade, was released January 16, 2007. Blizzard filed for the Burning Crusade trademark in May 3, 2005. The “published for opposition” date was January 31, 2006.

WoW’s released its second expansion Wrath of the Lich King on November 13, 2008. The Wrath of the Lich King trademarks were filed on July 28, 2007 (there were three trademarks filed). The “published for opposition” date was January 15, 2008.

WoW’s released its most recent expansion Cataclysm on December 7, 2010. Blizzard filed for three Cataclysm trademarks on June 26, 2009. The “published for opposition” date was September 15, 2009.

Many other gaming companies do what Blizzard does: file for a trademark first then release the expansion. Blizzard takes about a year and a half to go from filing date to releasing date. Blizzard’s announcement that there will be a fourth expansion and its July 28, 2011 filing for the trademark Mist of Pandaria have many speculating that Mist of Panadaria will be the new expansion. I predict that Mist of Pandaria will be the fourth expansion of WoW. The time line matches up and predicts an early 2012 release date.

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