Microsoft settles its legal dispute with Fox and can finally make a new Killer Instinct

killer instinct xbla

There is a lost generation of video game players that hear the name Rare Inc. and don’t immediately think of Microsoft’s Kinect or the Xbox 360’s weirdly sterile avatars. During the mid-90’s, Rare was king. The developer was busy churning out some of the best video games of the decade, from Donkey Kong Country to GoldenEye 007. Rare was on top, and eventually was purchased by Microsoft in 2002 for the cool sum of $375 million. But things change, and the once great industry giant now focuses its attention on smaller games made for niche audiences. Rare has had moderate success with titles like Kinect Sports and the Viva Piñata series, but that older generation haven’t forgotten. If Rare is lucky, and if it is smart, a recent legal decision, however, may provide it with just the “in” it needs to get back on top. 

It’s been more than a decade and a half since the last Killer Instinct game came out for Nintendo 64, but even now there are fans that have been holding out hope for a new sequel in Rare’s long lost fighting game series, even though the property was locked up in a bitter legal battle. As of Thursday though, Microsoft and Rare can finally, legally make another Killer Instinct.

In September, Microsoft spurred new rumors that it was making Killer Instinct 3, or at the very least preparing an HD re-release of the original Killer Instinct, when it renewed its trademark for the series. It wasn’t quiet about it, either.

“With all due respect to our friends in the media who like to frequent trademark sites, we thought we’d break this one ourselves,” said Microsoft, “Our legal eagles have authorized us to say: ‘We have either renewed or re-filed a trademark application [for Killer Instinct] in various jurisdictions.”

Unfortunately for fans, Microsoft spoke too soon, and it wasn’t allowed to keep the trademark. The United States Patent and Trademark Office denied Microsoft’s application because News Corp.’s Fox currently owned the trademark for the name. Fox wasn’t planning on making its own game where people have improbably names like Fulgore though. It held the name because of a shortlived television drama from 2005 also named Killer Instinct. That dispute has officially been settled.

The USPTO announced that Fox and Microsoft have entered a Coexistence Agreement wherein the two companies have agreed to not break each other’s combos if either tries to make anything called “Killer Instinct” in the future. 

With that settled, will Microsoft let Rare get to work on Killer Instinct 3? Microsoft Studios creative chief Ken Lobb would certainly like to. Lobb is, after all, the creator of the series. “I obviously have personal feelings about Killer Instinct, but I do think it’s got a place,” said Lobb at the X10 event three years ago, “Let’s bring back something that people loved in the past and see how it does on Live Arcade.”

When it comes to the battle between Sony and Microsoft in the console wars, one clear advantage Sony has had has been in console exclusives. There is no reason to believe that that will change significantly with the next-gen of systems, as Sony’s list of internal studios continues to grow. With a still fairly well-known property like Killer Instinct just sitting there, it’s hard not to imagine that Microsoft wouldn’t at least consider reviving the franchise as an exclusive for its next Xbox. 

Nostalgia for the ‘90s is big business these days. Fans should brush up on their Orchid skills anyway and practice that 76 hit ultra combo from Cinder. Just in case.

Gaming

Twitch viewers aren’t tuning in to watch ‘Fallout 76’ gameplay

Fallout 76 has experienced a sharp decline in viewership not just when compared to the numbers for Fallout 4, but also compared to the game's B.E.T.A. period last month. Sales also appear to be lower than they were with Fallout 4.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'The Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘The Good Place’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Gaming

Your PlayStation 4 game library isn't complete without these games

Looking for the best PS4 games out there? Out of the massive crop of titles available, we selected the best you should buy. No matter what your genre of choice may be, there's something here for you.
Gaming

These are the best Xbox One games available right now

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From 'Cuphead' to 'Halo 5,' the best Xbox One games offer something for everyone.
Gaming

Feeling nostalgic? Here are the 25 best Sega Genesis games

Although the company has since fallen into obscurity, Sega was an indisputable titan throughout the '90s. That said, here are 25 best Sega Genesis games that helped define its fabled decade.
Deals

The best Nintendo Switch deals and bundles for November 2018

Looking to score Nintendo's latest hybrid console? We've smoked out the best Nintendo Switch deals right here, including discounts on stand-alone consoles as well as bundles that feature games like Fortnite and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
Product Review

‘Let’s Go Pikachu’ and ‘Let’s Go Eevee’ feel like true ‘Pokémon Go’ RPGs

Pokémon: Let’s Go’s simplified reimagining of Pokémon Yellow has a great balance of old and new mechanics. It has a streamlined approach that makes it easy to get into, but depth remains for longtime fans.
Deals

The Best Black Friday Deals from Best Buy in 2018

We've been hard at work assembling all the best Black Friday deals Best Buy offers in 2018 and putting them in one place to save you time and money this holiday season. From laptops to TVs, game consoles to smart speakers and much more…
Computing

Detangle your desk with a mighty wireless mouse. Here are our six favorites

If you're looking for the best wireless mouse on the market, we've got the list for you!. These six models have something for everyone, whether you're a hardcore gamer or simply looking to ward off carpal tunnel.
Deals

The best Walmart Black Friday deals in 2018

Walmart has historically been the undisputed king of Black Friday deals. The mega-store is known for offering deals on products in almost every category, from smart TVs to children’s toys. We're combing through every deal as it is…
Computing

Want to game on your Chromebook? Here's where to start

Chromebooks aren't great for gaming, but there are a few titles that most machines can run. There's a surprisingly diverse crowd that includes role-playing games, action side-scrollers, and puzzlers.
Gaming

Dominate in multiplayer with a few of our favorite 'Battlefield 5' weapons

Here are some of the best weapons you can use to get the upper hand in Battlefield 5's multiplayer, including assault rifles, sniper rifles, pistols, and anti-tank tools.
Gaming

How to become a master assassin and perfect the art of execution in 'Hitman 2'

'Hitman 2' introduces new and improved story missions with a scale that can feel overwhelming if you're not prepared. Learn everything you need to know to obtain a high score while remaining unnoticed.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Nissan turmoil, product designer Jae Yoo of Nerf, and more

For today's episode of Digital Trends Live, we turn our attention to the L.A. Auto Show and Lamborghini's race-ready version of the Urus. We also speak with Jae Yoo of Nerf and MLS defender Zarek Valentin about their origins, modern tech…