Atari Goes Head to Head with Nestle Over Copyright Infringement in UK Ad

Atari has filed a new lawsuit which accuses Nestle SA of blatant copyright violation regarding Atari’s ownership of the classic 1970s video game “Breakout.” The lawsuit says that Nestle has referenced the property in a new marketing campaign for its Kit Kat chocolate-covered wafers; without permission, of course.

On Thursday, Atari filed the complain in San Francisco federal court which said that Nestle knowingly exploited the “Breakout” copyright in name, look, and feel with the delivery of the new ad through social media and video ads. Specifically, the complaint alleges “Nestle decided that it would, without Atari’s authorization, leverage 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 reach of worldwide, multi-platform advertisements for Nestle Kit Kat bars.”

As you might expect, Nestle has not immediately responded to any requests for comment.

Atari goes on to say that “Nestle simply took the classic ‘Breakout’ screen, replaced its bricks with Kit Kat bars, and invited customers to ‘breakout’ and buy more candy. The complaint also includes a link to an ad for Kit Kat bites which is, fittingly, titled, “Kit Kat” Breakout” and shows both adults and children seated on a couch, using the iconic Atari paddles to knock down Kit Kat bars.

The complaint continues: “The infringing conduct in this case is so plain and blatant that Nestle cannot claim to be an ‘innocent’ infringer. Nestle knew exactly what it was doing.”

As such, Atari has accused Nestle not only of copyright and trademark infringement but also unfair competition. In the suit, Atari has sought three times the profit Nestle made from the ads of alleged infringement; but Atari has also asked for three times punitive damages as well. These damages might include things like lost goodwill (among the public) and licensing profits.

It is important to also note that the original ad aired only in the United Kingdom (on both television and on the internet) and then was later uploaded to YouTube for worldwide viewing.

This is not Nestle’s first round in a copyright dispute. Back in May, actually, the Swiss food company had lost a case in the UK Court of Appeal which rejected its enduring attempt(s) to trademark it’s four-bar shape of the original Kit Kat candy bars.

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