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Atari's legal threats prompt Apple to pull some games from iOS App Store

post #1 of 31
Thread Starter 
Game maker Atari has reportedly set its sights on applications in Apple's iOS App Store that it believes are illegal knock-offs of its own classic titles.

Legal pressure from Atari has caused some titles to be removed by Apple from the App Store, including "Vector Tanks" by Black Powder Media, gamesindustry.biz reported on Tuesday (via The Loop). The developer issued a statement saying that anything with a "passing resemblance to an Atari classic has been issued a copyright infringement claim."

The developer asserts that Atari has a "special relationship" with Apple, which has led to applications being pulled without a chance for rebuttal or further evaluation. Black Power Media's "Vector Tanks" is a wireframe 3D game that resembles Atari's "Battlezone."

The developer even claims they previously attempted to contact Atari to license their intellectual property for "Vector Tanks," but they could not be reached. He said the company seems "to have fallen off the planet."

An official Kickstarter page that was originally seeking funding to create a "Vector Tanks 3" states that Atari's legal pressure has affected "hundreds of apps" available for the iPhone and iPad. However, there's no indication how many other applications have been affected or pulled from the App Store because of Atari's approach.



The third installment of the tank game will now be redesigned with faster vehicles and air-based attackers to avoid Atari's claims of intellectual property infringement, and will have the name "The Visceral Adventures of Vic Vector."

"Spurred by the competition and their heavy tactics, we're making our game that much better, and Vic Vector's universe that much sleeker and cooler," the developer said.
post #2 of 31
nice to see Atari still loves to sue everyone and everything they can.
post #3 of 31
Shame Atari just doesn't get all those games ported and bank a few more $$$ as the income stream obviously dried many years ago for these. There is great interest in retro gaming so why not cash in...

Tom
post #4 of 31
1. Atari doesn't need a special relationship to get Apple to pull over IP. Apple will CYA over anyone saying that someone was stolen. Keeps them out of the lawsuits etc. SAme as youtube pulling a potentially infringing upload.

2. This developer says they tried to contact Atari essentially admitting that they knew they were dealing with someone else's IP. Atari refused to play because they didn't want to which doesn't negate their ownership and give someone else a blanket permission to infringe.

Summary, these guys have no room to say squat. They played with fire and they were burned. Time to actually create something and leave Atari's IP for them to port or not as they wish.

A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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post #5 of 31
i predict these guys will run to the blogs and in a few days we'll see some stories about evil apple running companies out of business
post #6 of 31
Spend your money creating something and then when everybody steals it, see how you feel.

Quote:
Originally Posted by s4mb4 View Post

nice to see Atari still loves to sue everyone and everything they can.
post #7 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by icoco3 View Post

Shame Atari just doesn't get all those games ported and bank a few more $$$ as the income stream obviously dried many years ago for these. There is great interest in retro gaming so why not cash in...

Tom


Atari offers "Greatest Hits" for the iPad which has a number of their 2600 console games. No Space Invaders though as Atari only licensed the game.
post #8 of 31
Figures. It was a lawsuit by the original Atari company that created the legal precedent for copyright's applicability to the look and feel of a video game, back when video games were just starting to have graphics detailed enough to represent anything distinctive. The Pac-Man clone they sued off the market was really vastly superior to the officially licensed Pac-Man for Atari 2600. http://itlaw.wikia.com/wiki/Atari_v....erican_Philips
post #9 of 31
I wonder if Atari still hire hippies who smell bad and make them work the night shift?
post #10 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stourque View Post

I wonder if Atari still hire hippies who smell bad and make them work the night shift?

I like that!
post #11 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Magic_Al View Post

Figures. It was a lawsuit by the original Atari company that created the legal precedent for copyright's applicability to the look and feel of a video game, back when video games were just starting to have graphics detailed enough to represent anything distinctive. The Pac-Man clone they sued off the market was really vastly superior to the officially licensed Pac-Man for Atari 2600. http://itlaw.wikia.com/wiki/Atari_v....erican_Philips

It's about like if nobody else could make a song with drums / guitars / singing because one band did it first. You know, it substantially captures the feel of rock 'n' roll.
post #12 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Magic_Al View Post

Figures. It was a lawsuit by the original Atari company that created the legal precedent for copyright's applicability to the look and feel of a video game, back when video games were just starting to have graphics detailed enough to represent anything distinctive. The Pac-Man clone they sued off the market was really vastly superior to the officially licensed Pac-Man for Atari 2600. http://itlaw.wikia.com/wiki/Atari_v....erican_Philips

Unlike the mess we have with IP and Patents, I personally do not have much of an issue with look and feel copyrights. It no different than someone creating art or a book only to have someone else coping it almost exactly and selling your work for their profits. Copyrights are pretty straight forward and Atari was not the first to do this. Other companies began to do similar things prior to Atari, they were probably the first one to actually suite someone for coping the look of their product. I work at a company who use to copyright the artwork for their silicon chip designs. It was a very easy and quick way to show if some copied the chip design it the lithography are work of chip match very closely to their then you must have copied the design, especially if it did the same function, no need to say they use your IP, play no time limit on copyrights.
post #13 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stourque View Post

I wonder if Atari still hire hippies who smell bad and make them work the night shift?

I always wonder about these "Hippies smell bad" comments when they come up. Most hippies I ever met smell fine but most businessmen I have met smell like sweat and have coffee, cigarettes, or scotch on their breath (or all of the above mixed together).

I think this is another one of those popular misconceptions along the lines of "women are bad drivers" (in fact they are better drivers on average than men are). It makes one wonder what the cultural necessity is at the root of the misconception.

The benefit of the wide-spread illusion that women are bad drivers in a male dominated society is rather obvious, but why do we need to believe that hippies "smell bad?"
post #14 of 31
This isn't really anything new. Atari has been doing this since at least 2008 on the App Store.
post #15 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post

Unlike the mess we have with IP and Patents, I personally do not have much of an issue with look and feel copyrights. It no different than someone creating art or a book only to have someone else coping it almost exactly and selling your work for their profits.

A little anecdote: Rickenbacker is a guitar manufacturer that was quite prominent with the British invasion of the 1960s. While Fender and Gibson failed to defend the designs of their iconic guitars, Rickenbacker aggressively defended their 'look and feel' copyrights over the last 40 years. They have been going after knock-off companies with every legal recourse they had to stop anyone from copying their instruments.

The result- Fender and Gibson have in the last few years spent untold millions trying to retroactively regain control of their designs which have been copied again and again and again, while Rickenbacker has a hard time filling their orders to a tune of a 12-24 month waiting list to purchase a new guitar. Their protective nature prevented the market from being flooded with copies that would have lowered the draw of the 'real' instruments.

Protecting one's ideas is just as valuable as coming up with the ideas in the first place.
post #16 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrstep View Post

It's about like if nobody else could make a song with drums / guitars / singing because one band did it first. You know, it substantially captures the feel of rock 'n' roll.

Your example is ridiculously over the top, but even if it wasn't, a part of the answer lies in the fact that there are different standards for different arts or medias.

For instance it's not widely known, but there is no copyright on fashion design at all. You can go to a designer show, take pictures, go straight home and copy everything stitch for stick and sell it as your own. As long as you don't represent it as being from the original designer, you are 100% legal and safe. It's only copying the logo/branded merchandise and maintaining it's the original that will get you in trouble which is why "brands" exist in the first place.

Perhaps rock music is like fashion in that it's not really that original. It is all based on the same three chords played on the same three instruments after all.
post #17 of 31
Apple should buy the company and allow IOS programmers to continue.
post #18 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

Most hippies I ever met smell fine but most businessmen I have met smell like sweat and have coffee, cigarettes, or scotch on their breath (or all of the above mixed together). ...

... but why do we need to believe that hippies "smell bad?"

I dunno ... why do you believe most businessmen smell bad?

I admit to being a Fanatical Moderate. I Disdain the Inane. Vyizderzominymororzizazizdenderizorziz?

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I admit to being a Fanatical Moderate. I Disdain the Inane. Vyizderzominymororzizazizdenderizorziz?

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post #19 of 31
All we have to do is find that game on an Android from the Samsung app store, let Atari suck on that.
post #20 of 31
You might want to read Walter Isaacson's Steve Jobs. Then you might understand the "joke."

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

I always wonder about these "Hippies smell bad" comments when they come up. Most hippies I ever met smell fine but most businessmen I have met smell like sweat and have coffee, cigarettes, or scotch on their breath (or all of the above mixed together).

I think this is another one of those popular misconceptions along the lines of "women are bad drivers" (in fact they are better drivers on average than men are). It makes one wonder what the cultural necessity is at the root of the misconception.

The benefit of the wide-spread illusion that women are bad drivers in a male dominated society is rather obvious, but why do we need to believe that hippies "smell bad?"
post #21 of 31
the article linked to below is interesting - worth a read.
Talks about heritage of ideas and borrowing and plagiarism.
interesting point of view is expressed in the article. might be of interest to this conversation.

The ecstasy of influence: A plagiarism
By Jonathan Lethem

full text here-> http://harpers.org/archive/2007/02/0081387
post #22 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

I always wonder about these "Hippies smell bad" comments when they come up. Most hippies I ever met smell fine but most businessmen I have met smell like sweat and have coffee, cigarettes, or scotch on their breath (or all of the above mixed together).

I think this is another one of those popular misconceptions along the lines of "women are bad drivers" (in fact they are better drivers on average than men are). It makes one wonder what the cultural necessity is at the root of the misconception.

The benefit of the wide-spread illusion that women are bad drivers in a male dominated society is rather obvious, but why do we need to believe that hippies "smell bad?"

Speaking as a genuine (former) hippie, I suspect that I DID smell bad to the average American. I lived at Wheelers Ranch (look it up) with basically no running water, but we had a community steam bath every Sunday. So what?
I also think that the people working at Atari were NOT Hippies. If they smelled "bad" it was poor hygiene. So don't insult the Hippies by comparing trm to those loser Atari slaves.

Macintosh 512Ke.......

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Macintosh 512Ke.......

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post #23 of 31
Duplicate post.
Damn it's hard to edit on an iPhone!

Macintosh 512Ke.......

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Macintosh 512Ke.......

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post #24 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by JONOROM View Post

I also think that the people working at Atari were NOT Hippies. If they smelled "bad" it was poor hygiene. So don't insult the Hippies by comparing trm to those loser Atari slaves.

You'll have to take this up with Don Lang, Atari engineer, who would not work with Steve Jobs because he (Jobs) was "a g.d. hippie with b.o."
post #25 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris_CA View Post

You'll have to take this up with Don Lang, Atari engineer, who would not work with Steve Jobs because he (Jobs) was "a g.d. hippie with b.o."

And because of his different diets it was said that he felt he did not need to shower. Hence the bad odour. I did not mean to insult any hippies. I would have been one, but I was 10 years too late.
post #26 of 31
How close of a copy are the apps? Most games are shooter type games and it seems to me that you can make a knockoff with enough changes where it wouldn't infringe. The basis for most old games seems to be kill all the bad guys and move to the next level. Why not do their own twist on an Atari game instead of a direct copy?
post #27 of 31
Really glad I got imame while it was in the app store! I never liked Battlezone (always seemed to get shot from behind), but I've managed to load Donkey Kong, Mario Bros, Defender, Joust, and Punch Out. I'm still looking for a working Popeye rom and a few others. I would be more than happy to pay for legit copies if they were available. I have bought plenty of retro games that have legit ports. Pac man, Mrs Pac man, Galaga, Dragons lair, frogger, and probably a few others so it's not like I want to just swipe free games. I must admit a small thrill from hunting for working roms and then seeing them start IF the rom is not missing files or the wrong version or something. Any way I see an iCade box in my near future. (Class of '86)
post #28 of 31
Yeah I don't see how anyone can think Vector Tanks isn't just a kicked up version of Battlezone. Just like that K C Munchkin is quite clearly a ripoff of Pac Man. You may not agree that something like that should be actionable, but it has been for quite a long time.

EDIT: Looking at it, Vector Tanks does look like it's a ton of fun, but so was Battlezone
post #29 of 31
Battlezone is in their Atari Arcade Classics pack, so I can kind of understand this. It's diverting attention away from their own product. Not that I think Atari is right for doing this, but -- I can understand.
post #30 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stourque View Post

I wonder if Atari still hire hippies who smell bad and make them work the night shift?

no, they work for apple now.
source, "steve jobs: the exclusive biography"
post #31 of 31
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stourque View Post

I wonder if Atari still hire hippies who smell bad and make them work the night shift?

Different Atari. That Atari (Atari Inc.) went under in 1984. The current Atari is a rebranded Infogrames SA.

As far as the claim in the article on no communication, I'm not so sure about that. The author of this game is the same one that was previously contacted by them to remove his copy of their Adventure game, which was literally a direct reproduction of the original 2600 game on iOS. Likewise, they have a direct program specifically for smaller companies to work with them and license properties -

http://www2.atari.com/go

That being said, Atari SA should also be considering how actions like these (this isn't the first time apps have been forced out of the app store by them) effect the brand's fans. With things as bad for the company as they are right now and not a lot of good remakes of older IP from them, they should consider approaching some of the better offenders to become official ports instead of issuing cease and desists. PR wise 2011 was a terrible year for them with stuff like this.

Here's Atari SA's official response btw:

http://www.develop-online.net/news/3...-defend-our-IP
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