AtGames, sued by Ms. Pac-Man’s owner, buys up royalty rights to the icon

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AtGames, the makers of throwback mini-consoles and arcade cabinets, has acquired an interest in the almost 40-year-old Ms. Pac-Man intellectual home, roughly a week following Bandai Namco sued the firm and alleged AtGames had interfered in negotiations to shore up a tangled rights problem.

A representative of Common Pc Corporation, the firm of college-kid developers who initially programmed Ms. Pac-Man in 1982 and later sold the creation to Bally/Midway and Namco, confirmed to Polygon that the transaction had taken location. AtGames acquired the royalty interest owed to GCC’s seven rights holders — efficiently, the suitable to be paid anytime the Ms. Pac-Man perform is made use of commercially. The deal was consummated sometime in August.

“As aspect of our ongoing initiative to be caretakers of essential cultural touchstones, we are privileged to achieve these useful rights pertaining to the iconic Ms. Pac-Man arcade game,” Ping-Kang Hsiung, the chief executive of AtGames, stated in a statement place out this morning.

AtGames, identified for its line of Flashback and Flashback Blast plug-and-play retro gaming devices, announced the transaction early this morning. It follows a federal lawsuit from Bandai Namco alleging that AtGames misrepresented itself as licensed to make Ms. Pac-Man solutions, and made or even distributed Ms. Pac-Man mini-cabinets beneath these claims.

AtGames representatives declined additional comment to Polygon, but did offer a copy of their attorney’s response to Bandai Namco’s counsel. The letter calls Bandai Namco’s actions “another transparent work to punish AtGames for getting into into its August 2019 agreement with the GCC folks, to sully AtGames’ reputation, to disrupt AtGames’ business enterprise relationships and to artificially manufacture leverage in the ongoing negotiations amongst the parties.”

“To wit, [Bandai Namco Entertainment America] is so irritated by the reality that AtGames has entered into a contract with the GCC Men and women — an arrangement BNEA hoped to exploit for its personal advantage via deceit and undesirable faith — that it has ordered its lawyers to attack AtGames by any indicates probable,” AtGames’ lawyer wrote.

Reached by Polygon on Thursday afternoon, a Bandai Namco of America representative noted that the firm does not ordinarily comment on pending litigation. Nevertheless, the firm did comment to underline the nature of the rights AtGames purchased and the ones Bandai Namco has and controls.

“BNEA has exclusive rights to use the Ms. Pac-Man mark and to reproduce, distribute, show, carry out, develop derivative operates of and/or use the Ms. Pac-Man copyrights,” the statement stated, “as effectively as to enforce the Ms. Pac-Man mark and Ms. Pac-Man copyrights in the United States.”


Image showing a miniaturized version of a Ms. Pac-Man arcade cabinet next to a full-size Galaga cabinet

The mini-cabinet involved in Bandai Namco’s allegations against AtGames.
Bandai Namco

AtGames has not acquired any handle more than the Ms. Pac-Man intellectual home, merely the suitable to be paid royalties when it is made use of in industrial operates. The position stems from the complex way in which Ms. Pac-Man was created. 3 programmers, then students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technologies, created a mod for Namco’s Pac-Man that sooner or later became Ms. Pac-Man, following they shopped it to Bally/Midway, then the rights holder in the U.S. for Pac-Man solutions. More than the years, Namco and its descendant firms acquired complete handle more than Ms. Pac-Man. But even following agreements reached in 1983 and 2008 with the seven folks connected to GCC’s stake in the IP, some royalty rights and obligations have been nonetheless unresolved.

Bandai Namco, in its lawsuit, says it had been in discussions with the GCC successors-in-interest about a after-and-for-all deal more than Ms. Pac-Man, and that AtGames’ meddling had tanked these negotiations. The lawsuit points to a mini Ms. Pac-Man cabinet it says AtGames produced with no permission, insinuating the firm was producing and supplying for sale unlicensed solutions. AtGames’ position is that it was a mock-up device privately shown to somebody who is not a customer (that is, somebody from GCC).

The intrigue more than Ms. Pac-Man is a single half of the case Bandai Namco presents in its allegations of false marketing, unfair competitors, and copyright infringement. The other claims concern a plug-and-play Pac-Man Flashback Blast device whose industrial launch in 2018, Bandai Namco alleges, contained code it had not authorized (especially, the game was a port of the Nintendo Entertainment Technique version and not the arcade game ROM). The unit sold poorly, with quite a few reviewers alleging they had been misled by the overview unit AtGames offered, which had the far more desirable arcade ROM.

The complete text of Bandai Namco Entertainment of America’s complaint follows. The complaint itself is the initially 26 pages, the remaining pages are exhibits referenced in the allegations.

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