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Atari Sues Nestle For Kit Kat Video Ad That Violates Breakout Copyright

Nestle seems to have bitten off more than they can chew with their new commercial for their famous Kit Kat bars. Video game company Atari claims that a commercial for Nestle’s Kit Kat bar violates the copyright and trademark right of Breakout, Atari’s iconic 1975 video game and Nestle is being sued for it.

According to Atari’s lawyers in a complaint PDF, Nestle’s 30-second commercial “leverage[s] Breakout and the special place it holds among nostalgic Baby Boomers, Generation X, and even today’s Millennial and post-Millennial ‘gamers.’ In order to maximize the advertisement’s reach, Nestle simply took the classic Breakout screen, replaced its bricks with KIT KAT bars, and invited customers to ‘Breakout’ and buy more candy bars.”

The case was filed in a California federal court on Friday and the ad was only aired in the United Kingdom and was viewable via Vimeo but has since been removed. The ad portrayed gamers of various ages playing a game of Breakout, in which bricks that the players break are replaced by chocolate bars; the original Breakout game created by Atari involved players controlling a rectangular platform, which they used to ricochet a ball back and forth in order to break a mass of colorful bricks that were overhead.

However, Atari today is not the company that they once were, having gone through a series of sales and merges. Despite this, the company has not hesitated to enforce their trademark on their games and has even gone as far as to defend their exclusive right to use the term “Haunted House” in video games, due to them creating a video game called Haunted House in 1982.

The complaint filed by Atari detailed the history of the game, which was conceptualized by Atari founder Nolan Bushnell and created by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. Atari’s goal when they created Breakout was to create a more popular version of the video game Pong.

Jobs, Bushnell, and Wozniak worked together in order to create the game. Bushnell challenged his engineers to reduce the number of logic chips needed from 100 to 175 to below 75 chips. Jobs hired Wozniak and claimed he could hit the mark in 4 days and Wozniak was able to create the prototype that used 20 to 30 circuits within 72 hours, with the final prototype utilizing 44 chips.

The game went on to be a huge success with sequels such as Super Breakout and Breakout 2000 being created. Even an iPhone version of Breakout was created and was downloaded more than two million times. Atari states that the game is “an early Silicon Valley ingenuity,” as well as being a relic of 1970s and 1980s gaming culture. Alongside the copyright claims, Atari also claims unfair competition and trademark dilution. Nestle has yet to respond to Atari’s claims.

Featured image via Marco Verch/ Flickr

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