Dbrand just announced the Darkplates 2.0, a redesign of the matte black PS5 faceplates that got Dbrand into legal trouble. It might seem like just a regular customisation product, but the story of Darkplates goes a lot deeper than you might think.
The Darkplates story
It all started in November 2020, when the Sony Playstation 5 hit the shelves with a bold white design. UK company PlateStation5.com capitalised on the customisation demands and released custom faceplates, but was forced to rebrand to CustomizeMyPlates.com after receiving a trademark complaint from Sony. The legal trouble didn’t stop there, as Sony also threatened to take the peripheral maker to court if they continued to sell and distribute the custom-made faceplates.
Just a few weeks later, Dbrand also decided to get into the PS5 customisation market by making custom skins, but ended up having to cancel the project and issue refunds. Their reasoning for the cancellation was because they believed users would find it too difficult to apply and would only result in more customer complaints.
In December 2020, Darkplates was announced, a matte black custom PS5 faceplate by Dbrand. The design was virtually identical to the original faceplates, but without any PlayStation logos. When asked if Dbrand was worried about potential legal issues with Sony, they replied “We encourage them to try”.
Fast forward to February 2021 and Dbrand actually started making Darkplates. They were in great demand, being almost as hard to get as the actual console. Dbrand continued with their tough-guy act and released the product with the tagline “Go ahead, sue us”. Surely that isn’t going to backfire, right?
Dbrand forced to pull Darkplates from sale
It backfired. Dbrand challenged Sony to sue and Dbrand got exactly what they asked for. Sony sent over a cease and desist letter and so Dbrand was forced to comply and pull the Darkplates from sale on October 16th.
It turns out that Sony acquired a registered design patent this year and so was now able to take legal action. It is unclear when exactly Dbrand received the letter, but all we know was that it was issued earlier this year.
To quickly turn things around, Dbrand came up with a newer version with a completely different design as well as additional features. They call it Darkplates 2.0, and it is intended to avoid legal trouble by having a different enough design.
They provided this statement to comment on its legality:
By creating a brand new design, Darkplates 2.0 successfully closes the loop on this dispute and neutralizes any future infringement claims from Sony.Dbrand
Compared to the original faceplates, these are much more rounded. They also seem to be smooth compared to the original’s textured shapes on the surface. Right now, the Darkplates 2.0 come in three colours: matte black, retro gray, and white.
Dbrand is also introducing custom colour lightstrips for an additional USD 4.95 (about RM20.56) for each strip.
The biggest change has to be the air vents on the sides of the faceplates. These are placed directly in front of the 120mm air intake fans, and are claimed to make the internal components run 5 degrees Celcius cooler.
When asked if they think Sony is still going to sue them, Dbrand responded with this:
“Probably. The difference this time is that we’ve created an original design for which they have no basis to allege infringement. If they want to try, they’d better be ready to pay our legal fees.”Dbrand, on Reddit
Pricing and availability
The Darkplates 2.0 is now available for pre-order with a price of USD 69.00 (about RM286.66). After the pre-order period, it seems like the price will jump to USD 89.00 (about RM369.75). There is a limited stock and both disc and digital edition designs are available.
It is unclear if Sony will force Dbrand to cancel the orders again, but if they don’t, then the Darkplates 2.0 are expected to start shipping January 2022.