Atari was once a giant of video game innovation, but now it's a troll — a company that produces nothing except legal threats — and its latest project is to get the US Patent and Trademark Office to give it the right to decide who can make haunted house games, and charge the lucky few for the privilege.
Atari made a game called "Haunted House" in the early 1980s. In 2010, decades after this game ceased to have any meaningful place in the market, the current owners of Atari, filed a trademark on "Haunted House" in connection with games.
Now, Atari wants to shut down "Haunted House Tycoon," a new game — you know, a game that someone might actually play — from a publisher called Hazy Dreams.
So Atari is going to bully a current game maker over a generic term it once used on a game it made over three decades ago, but didn't trademark until 2010. It's hard to think of an example that better shows how trademark law is abused today, deviating from its intended purpose and spirit. There's no customer confusion here to worry about. Nobody is going to mistake Atari's block graphics for the modern Haunted House Tycoon title. This is simply a bullying tactic, likely to generate licensing revenue. That's what Atari is now, after all.
Greenberg, of course, isn't pleased.
"Trying to claim no one else can use the words 'Haunted' and 'House' is especially ridiculous, considering games have been using the term 'Haunted House" in titles ever since Magnavox released a game by that name for the Odyssey in 1972," he said in a statement. "Atari has a horrible reputation for attacking independent game developers, including recently going after TxK developer Jeff Minter," the Hazy Dreams of Infinity president said.