If you're wondering what happened to that Killer Instinct XBLA re-release Microsoft appeared to be teasing in September, there seems to be a bust-up brewing on the trademarks front 'twixt the platform holder and Fox Network.
Microsoft's application to renew the Killer Instinct trademark for "video game software" and "entertainment services, namely, providing online video games" has been denied by the United States Patent & Trademarks Office, on the grounds that it risks consumer confusion with another Killer Instinct trademark, covering "entertainment services in the nature of a television series featuring drama".
The latter, Polygon suspects, refers to Fox's 2005 TV show Killer Instinct. The USPTO's letter argues that "the connotation and commercial impression of the marks do not differ when considered in connection with applicant's and registrant's respective goods and services".
It concludes: "Thus, upon encountering KILLER INSTINCT for "video game software" and "entertainment services, namely, providing online video games" and KILLER INSTINCT for "entertainment services in the nature of a television series featuring drama, "consumers are likely to be confused and mistakenly believe that the respective goods and services emanate from a common source."
Rare is the original handler of the Killer Instinct franchise, but has other fish to fry nowadays. According to former Rare modeller Donnchadh Murphy, "we all wanted to make [Killer Instinct 3], but Microsoft [was] more interested in broadening their demographic than making another fighting game. So it never got made, I doubt it ever will."
Microsoft has six months from 29th November to respond to the USPTO's letter, or face the dismissal of its application. Let's hope Redmond finds a way to join the dots.