Who can sell Ms. Pac Man?

Bandai Namco owns the trademark and copyright in classic arcade game Ms. Pac Man, but a retro hardware company named AtGames has acquired rights to collect royalty payments on it.

These rights were separated out in 1982, to reward the independent developers who devised the Pac Man modifications that Namco would later market as Ms. Pac Man, and AtGames bought those rights earlier this year. AtGames thinks this gives it the right to make and sell new Ms. Pac Man cabinets; Bandai Namco does not.

Bandai Namco also says AtGames made at least one prototype Ms. Pac-Man miniature arcade cabinet, using Bandai Namco's trademarks without the company's authorization, and showed it to at least one of the GCC successors as part of its negotiations. AtGames has also allegedly been contacting retailers like GameStop and Wal-Mart about selling that Ms. Pac-Man cabinet without the involvement of Bandai Namco. Bandai Namco also believe AtGames made false statements about its access to the IP.

"Not only are AtGames' false statements likely to damage Bandai Namco Entertainment America's relationship with its current and prospective licensees, retailers and/or distributors, but they are also likely to cause severe harm to BNEA's reputation and goodwill," the lawsuit reads.

AtGames recently marketed a "flashback" style console where the models sent to game reviewers were flashed with ROMS from the original arcade games, but the actual retail version had only the ROMS from crappy 8-bit home conversions. Arcade game screenshots were on the box. AtGames doesn't seem a well-respected outfit among retrogamers.

Be sure to read up on how those MIT hackers came to create the most successful Pac Man spinoff.