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dbrand Continues to Poke the Bear

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To say that the physical aesthetics of Sony’s PlayStation 5 have been divisive would be the understatement of the generation. From the seemingly unnecessary curves to the fins reminiscent of many standing fans and Wi-Fi routers, to things as simple as the color scheme people have been dunking on the PS5 since it was first unveiled. After Sony released a tear-down video in which they revealed the side plates of the PS5 were easily removable, the popular phone skin manufacturer dbrand took it upon themselves to solve at least one of the more controversial PS5 aesthetic issues. And thus, the darkplates were born, and with them have come many challenges for legal action and finally an actual threat.

The concept behind darkplates is simple: a significant number of prospective PS5 owners have expressed dissatisfaction with the standard white PS5 side plates, while also wishing those plates were black; so dbrand made black side plates. The darkplates are a simple accessory that was presented in a somewhat inflammatory way. When first introducing darkplates the product page explicitly dared Sony to sue dbrand. Well, after eight months on the market Sony has finally taken dbrand up on their challenge. 

Late last week, dbrand announced in a post on their official subreddit that “Darkplates are dead. Thanks, Sony.” The post goes on to explain that the skin manufacturer has been served with a cease-and-desist letter effectively putting an end to the first iteration of darkplates. While the cease and desist outlined many complaints, the primary complaint pertained to the shape of the side plates. Part of the complaint reads:

Thanks to our client’s extensive marketing of the PS5 console, its commercial popularity and its massive earned media coverage, the console’s unique product configuration, including without limitation the two vertical faceplates, has become exclusively associated with [Sony] in the minds of consumers and has come to symbolize considerable goodwill (the PS5 console design, together with the PlayStation Word Marks and Logos, the “PlayStation Marks”).”

This particular passage of the complaint specifies not only the “PlayStation Marks” (as if to claim the PlayStation popularized the shapes square, circle, and triangle) but also the shape of the plates being what is iconic of the PS5. 

One would assume that the specificity of the wording in the cease-and-desist letter was an attempt to not only strengthen Sony’s case but also shut down darkplate production permanently. Dbrand opted to interpret that specificity differently. Using Sony’s claims of the shape of the plates being the characteristic that makes them iconic, dbrand simply changed the shape and added a ventilation hole, and the darkplates 2.0 were born. 

Darkplates 2.0 come in the customer’s selection of black, gray, or white featuring the new, not at all iconic, shape. But what’s more important is the messaging on the darkplates 2.0 product page. Once again dbrand has made an intentionally inflammatory statement and at the very top of said page is written “Checkmate, Lawyers.” Darkplates are available now for pre-order for $59 and will ship in January.

Some more cynical people online have posited that dbrand’s challenge and the entire existence of darkplates has all been a marketing ploy. And while that theory may be correct, anyone who has the tenacity to challenge Sony to a legal battle for the sake of guerilla marketing has my respect. We will be keeping an eye on this story and if there are any significant updates you can count on finding that information right here at Goomba Stomp. 

News writer and Xbox reviewer. Patrick lives in Minneapolis Minnesota with his wife and their dog Ghost. Patrick studied economics at the University of Northern Colorado and is particularly interested in the market dynamics of the video game industry. When he's not working Patrick can be found walking Ghost through downtown MPLS, binging The West Wing on repeat, or playing hockey. Follow Patrick in everything he does on Twitter @TheLawMorris or on YouTube by subscribing to ColdNorth Productions, you can see everything he does independently at www.coldnorthpro.com.

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