Microsoft has been unable to trademark “Killer Instinct” as Fox already owns the rights to the phrase.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has ruled that granting Microsoft the trademark for the fighting series would cause confusion with Fox’s namesake TV show.

Killer Instinct debuted in arcades in 1994 and became the property of Microsoft when it acquired Rare in 2002.

Fox’s Killer Instinct show ran for one season in 2005.

“Trademark Act Section 2(d) bars registration of an applied-for mark that so resembles a registered mark that it is likely that a potential consumer would be confused, mistaken, or deceived as to the source of the goods and/or services of the applicant and registrant," wrote the USPTO in its judgement.

A new Killer Instinct game might be assumed to be related to the show, it added.

It isn’t known why Microsoft took the steps to register the trademark in September, as it has outwardly appeared disinterested in the franchise.

In August, Rare developer Donnchadh Murphy said that Rare was keen to bring a new version of the game to Xbox Live, but that Microsoft wasn’t keen.

"We all wanted to make KI3, but Microsoft [was] more interested in broadening their demographic than making another fighting game. So it never got made, I doubt it ever will," he said.

Perhaps an XBLA port is on the horizon.