Video game pioneers Atari are accusing Swiss candy company Nestlé over copyright infringement for using its old video game Breakout in a Kit Kat commercial. The commercial came out last year, but Atari is just now getting around to filing a lawsuit in California against the candy company. Atari is suing Nestlé for trademark and copyright infringement as well as unfair competition and other claims. Nestlé is holding strong and claims that they will continue to fight the lawsuit because the ad no longer airs and they apparently have no plans to re-release the commercial, which is probably smart since they're being sued.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the video game company says that its Breakout game was used without permission for an ad campaign. It appears that the commercials were only shown in the U.K. and Europe, but that's not stopping the video game company. Atari provided a brief history of the game before detailing the lawsuit, which you can read below.
"In 1975, two little known but up-and-coming developers, Steve Jobs and Steve Wosniak, created Breakout for Atari, which was then looking to follow up on its groundbreaking hit game, Pong. Forty years later Nestlé 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 Nestlé KIT KAT bars."
The classic game has been duplicated many times for multiple platforms and was originally inspired by the Atari game Pong. The game is even the basis and inspiration of certain aspects of the Apple II computer. In the game, a layer of bricks lines up at the top of the screen and players bounce a ball off of a paddle and the sides of the game screen. The ball hits the bricks until all of them or cleared and then the player reaches the next level. According to Atari, Nestlé broke copyright rules by using Breakout's name and classic game screen, with the colored bricks replaced by KitKat candy bars. Atari said Nestlé had "eliminated, or dramatically degraded" its opportunity to license further games including Asteroids and Centipede, to a multi-billion dollar food, candy and chocolate advertising market. That might be stretching it a bit there, but Atari is not backing down from the lawsuit and are taking it very seriously.
Atari just filed the lawsuit on Thursday in San Francisco, California for an undisclosed amount of money, but by the language, you can be sure that they're going after a lot of Nestlé's dough. Breakout is cool and all, but Tetris might have been a better game for Kit Kat and they probably wouldn't be in such hot water over using an ancient Atari game that's available to play on Google with a quick image search of "Atari Breakout." Hopefully this doesn't damage the Atari brand as much as they claim it's going to and it's impossible to believe that it would. Maybe they settle out of court for a lifetime supply of Kit Kats and diabetes instead.