Atari, the company behind some of the most popular video games in the 1970s and 1980s, filed a lawsuit against the Nestlé company for willfully and blatantly infringing on its copyright.
According to the lawsuit filed in San Francisco, Nestlé leveraged on the popularity of the 40-year-old video game to market its confectionery KitKat, and that the company did not seek permission from Atari to use anything related to the Breakout trademark.
Video Games vs. Chocolate Bars
It's no longer a surprise when technology companies sue each other due to copyright infringement but to have a retro game company take legal action against a confectionery company is somewhat intriguing.
The subject of Atari's rage is a 2016 KitKat commercial that aired in the UK and featured kids and adults of different sex and race coming together to play a KitKat clone of the Breakout game; however, the bricks had been replaced by KitKat bites bars. The TV advertisement was titled "KitKat: Breakout," which probably makes the accusation against Nestlé even stronger.
To emphasize the confectionery company's willful copyright infringement, Atari noted in section F of its complaint [PDF] that "Nestlé has no excuse" for its action.
"The infringing conduct in this case is so plain and blatant that Nestlé cannot claim to be an 'innocent' infringer. Nestlé knew exactly what it was doing," Atari stated.
Atari even included a Vimeo link to the KitKat advertisement; however, the video in the link provided has since been taken down.
It's safe to say that Atari is not taking the cloning case lightly especially since it claims Nestlé's action has damaged the company's reputation and removed potential partnerships with competitor confectionery and food brands due to its inexistent relationship with Nestlé products.
"Atari can almost assuredly not license Asteroids, Centipede, or more than 200 other games to Hershey, Mars, or Nestlé's other competitors, and it has likely been eliminated as potential licensor by scores of additional companies for all of its offerings," Atari noted.
For its lawsuit, Atari is demanding three times Nestlé's profits from the advertisement in question, as well as punitive and actual damages due to lost licensing profits and opportunities.
Nestlé finally responded to the news but the company only said that it will defend itself against Atari's allegations.
"The ad no longer runs and we have no current plans to re-run it. We are aware of the lawsuit in the U.S. and will defend ourselves strongly against these allegations," Nestlé said in a statement.