UPDATE 2: EA responded to Shacknews' inquiries, stating that it is EA's policy to regularly maintain its trademarks. As far as System Shock 3 itself, it comes as no surprise that the official response is, "We don't comment on rumors."
As Take-Two announced its acquisition of System Shock 2 developer Irrational Games, various news sources have reported on an intriguing trademark issued last month to Electronic Arts by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. It registers the System Shock name as a trademark for use in a computer game, prompting some to wonder if EA plans to revive the franchise. Currently, Irrational is working on a "spiritual successor" to its acclaimed System Shock 2, which has achieved something of a legendary status among PC gamers in the more than five years since its release.
Registered December 15, 2005, the language used in the patent specifies "a computer game that may be accessed network-wide by network users" and/or "an online computer game accessed and played via mobile and cellular phones and other wireless devices." That second one is rather surprising. Perhaps it's just there to cover all possible bases, but somebody who wants to travel out on a limb might speculate that it suggests an "alternate reality game." After all, EA did publish the well-intentioned but flawed Majestic, a game that begins on the PC but expands out to players' cell phones and email inboxes. While Majestic wasn't exactly a success, it was created and championed by EA's Neil Young, an outspoken and high-up executive at the commpany. Young has continued to speak in support of the concept behind Majestic even if it wasn't a commercial blockbuster. And System Shock, with its plot centered around a self-aware AI, does seem like an ideal universe for such a setting.
Of course, that is all rampant speculation. EA might be working on some kind of sequel to the series, but more likely it's simply a renewal of the trademark to keep tabs on the intellectual property. There's also the appealing notion of a simple reprint of the past games.