Lawsuits can be confusing, so we’ll try to boil things down for you and get you up to speed on what exactly is going on between Nintendo and Atari. Almost a year ago Atari Games filed a lawsuit against Nintendo claiming unfair policies were in place, resulting in hampered sales. This stemmed from a microchip shortage that was gripping the industry and Atari felt it wasn’t getting its fair share of cartridges from Nintendo and thus its games weren’t making as much money as they could have been.
Nintendo claims it needs strict quality and quantity control over the NES game market to avoid another video game crash like what happened back in 1983. A glut of subpar games managed to sink the first generation of video games and Nintendo hopes to avoid that this time around. To meet this objective they have implemented a security chip in the Nintendo home console that prevents unauthorized cartridges from working. They also limit the number of titles each licensee can release in a given year.
Well, Atari Games (publishing under the name Tengen) was having none of that and took Nintendo to court. Nintendo countersued claiming they were violating Nintendo’s patents. Now, it turns out Nintendo has found evidence that Atari has unlawfully obtained copyrighted Nintendo computer program code from the U.S. Copyright Office in order to circumvent the lockout chip. If this is found to be the case, this could be a huge blow to Atari (Tengen) and Nintendo could seek further damages and stop them from selling games for their system. Obviously we won’t know the final ruling for some time, but the plot thickens!
What do you think? Should Tengen be allowed to sell unauthorized games or is Nintendo in the right here? Let us know!
Nintendo Expands Suit Against Atari
November 30, 1989
Nintendo of America Inc. on Wednesday expanded its lawsuit against rival Atari Games, contending that Atari fraudulently and unlawfully obtained a copyrighted Nintendo computer program from the U.S. Copyright Office and used it in the manufacture of cartridges compatible for play on the Nintendo Entertainment System. Atari Games said the action lacked merit.