April 10, 2003


Sony leads charge to cash in on Iraq (Julia Day, April 10, 2003, The Guardian)
Japanese electronics giant Sony has taken an extraordinary step to cash in on the war in Iraq by patenting the term "Shock and Awe" for a computer game.

It is among a swarm of companies scrambling to commercially exploit the war in Iraq, which has killed more than 5,000 soldiers and civilians in the space of three weeks.

MediaGuardian.co.uk has learned that Sony is set to launch a computer game called "Shock and Awe", having registered the defining phrase of the coalition's military campaign as a trademark in the US.

It registered the term as a trademark with the US Patent and Trademark Office on March 2 1 - just one day after war started. It wants to use it for computer and video games, as well as a broadband game played both locally and globally via the internet among PlayStation users.

The phrase, coined by former US navy pilot Harlan Ullman, was adopted by Washington to describe the fierce bombardment of Baghdad on the second night of the war - the military tactic designed to bully the Iraqi resistance into submission.

However, the crassness of the phrase was seized upon by critics of evidence of US arrogance in a war that the UN, and notably France and Russia, refused to support.

A spokesman for Sony PlayStation in the UK admitted the company might not stock the game in Britain and Europe owing to political sensitivities.

Why not cut to the chase and call it Nuclear Holocaust? Posted by Orrin Judd at April 10, 2003 4:44 PM

If memory of the Lanham Act serves, they're gonna have a hell of a time defending that trademark.

And there was a game called Nuclear Holocaust, a while back. I think it was for the PC.

Posted by: Chris at April 10, 2003 5:53 PM

The funny thing is, the game will no doubt have no correlation to the actual term. There's not much fun in pressing buttons that blow up military infrastructure and units until your fictional enemy is demoralized enough to surrender--which is, of course, the ultimate goal of the Shock and Awe technique. I think, all things considered, it worked rather well this time around, all things considered.

Posted by: Timothy at April 10, 2003 7:26 PM

And, all things considered, I should pay more attention when I use terms like "all things considered," all things considered.

Posted by: Timothy at April 10, 2003 7:28 PM

Mr. Judd;

Too close to Nuclear War
and its expansion set Nuclear Escalation.

One of my favorites that I've been playing lately is Total Annihilation - "after over 4000 years of war that devastated galaxy the only acceptable outcome was the complete and utter elimination of the enemy". The war is based on a rebellion over the forced transfer of consciousness from flesh to computer, which is done in order to protect the citizens. When I play rebel I refer to my Commander as "Orrin".

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at April 10, 2003 8:23 PM

Given what country Sony's headquarters is located in, they might as well just call it "Hiroshima" or "Nagasaki." I'm sure it would go over great at the next stockholders' meeting...

Posted by: John at April 11, 2003 1:58 AM

AOG: I loved Nuclear War. I heard there was a PC version of that, too.

Posted by: Chris at April 11, 2003 2:04 AM

I love it that the writer obviously thinks that "patent" and "trademark registration" are synonyms.

Posted by: Kirk Parker at April 11, 2003 2:27 AM