24 September 2019Copyright

Game maker sues over Ms. Pac-Man

Video game developer and publisher Bandai Namco has filed a complaint in California alleging that rival developer AtGames infringed its IP covering the classic Ms. Pac-Man character.

The complaint was filed at the US District Court for the Northern District of California on Friday, September 20, and alleges trademark and copyright infringement, as well as counterfeiting, unfair competition and false advertising.

Bandai Namco Entertainment America (the plaintiff) is the US arm of Bandai Namco Entertainment, the Japanese game developer which owns the IP rights for the  “Ms. Pac-Man” game and character.

According to the complaint, Bandai Namco and AtGames had a business relationship which involved the licensing of certain rights to AtGames for use in its “classic video games” development, specifically in relation to “Pac-Man”.

However, the complaint alleged that AtGames failed to keep within the terms of its agreement and released a version of the Pac-Man product it was developing that “materially differed” from the version approved by Bandai Namco, and that as a result, caused reputational damage to the rights owner.

Further, the complaint alleged, AtGames released a “Ms. Pac-Man” arcade machine despite not having a licence to any Ms. Pac-Man IP.

“The unauthorised Ms. Pac-Man product applies the exact Ms. Pac-Man mark, as well as images of the copyrighted Ms. Pac-Man arcade decals and characters, including but not limited to various iterations of the Ms. Pac-Man and ghost characters, on the machine,” without authorisation, the complaint said.

Bandai Namco also alleged that AtGames had made false claims to retailers about the legitimacy of its product in order to persuade them to sell its unauthorised product.

It alleged AtGames has infringed its Ms. Pac-Man trademark (US number 1,279,066), as well as its copyright registrations covering the property. Bandai Namco asked the court to award an injunction against AtGames, and demanded a jury trial and triple damages.

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