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Bootleg Consoles Attract Lawsuit From Atari
Bootleg Consoles Attract Lawsuit From Atari
July 6, 2011 | By Frank Cifaldi

July 6, 2011 | By Frank Cifaldi
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Atari Interactive has filed a $30 million lawsuit in a California district court against the owner and operator of distributor Tommo Inc., saying that the latter knowingly sold illegal knockoffs of its Flashback 2 console.

According to the complaint, which was acquired by Gamasutra, video game merchandise distributor Tommo has sold "wholesale quantities of unauthorized and pirated copies of Atari software and Atari Flashback 2 consoles."

The Flashback 2, which was introduced in 2005, is a "plug-and-play" console roughly shaped like Atari's original 2600 console. It had forty games built in: mainly these were original Atari-published releases for the system, though a handful of new games and previously-unreleased prototypes were included. The product was discontinued in 2006, having sold over 860,000 units.

Bootleg Flashback 2s have been sold by a variety of retailers, including Amazon, Woot.com, and stores owned by Kroger, including Fred Meyer, Smiths, and Ralphs grocery stores.

According to reports by those who have purchased the units, the bootlegs are nearly identical to the original units, down to the packaging design. Reports suggest that the software itself has noticeable glitches not present in the original units. The only notable cosmetic differences include a slightly different font printed on the internal circuit board and a minor color variation on a sticker on the unit's face.

According to commentary by Flashback creator Legacy Engineering, it is likely that the illegal manufacturer of the knock-off units was able to obtain the original's source files and plastic molds.

Atari is seeking damages to be determined by Tommo's sales figures, and may push for damages of up to $150,000 for each of its infringed copyrights, of which it is claiming over 80 were violated.

Tommo is a distributor of video game merchandise that was formed in 1989. Its past clients include Natsume, Konami and Capcom, though the majority of its games distributed of late come from budget publisher UFO Interactive.


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Comments


Alex K
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These are attractive because people still want them, and they aren't being officially manufactured anymore. So obviously, Atari should make an Atari Flashback 3 with more games and a built-in cart slot, and then the bootleg Flashback 2's will have no market.

Christopher Engler
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Or they should release their library for digital download and sell a novelty USB compatible Atari-style joystick.

E Zachary Knight
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This is one of the things that confuses me. You can find after market NES, SNES and Genesis consoles, but you can't find any after market Atari 2600 or 7800 consoles. I would love to buy one, because getting a working 2600 is pretty near impossible and these Flashback consoles don't have a cart slot.

sukru tikves
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Actually it's relatively easy to add a card slot to the Flashback. They specifically added open connections to make this possible:



http://www.atarimuseum.com/fb2hacks/page1.htm

E Zachary Knight
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And for those of us who are not comfortable modding circuit boards?

Eric Ruck
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Since when is getting a working 2600 near impossible?

Martin Goldberg
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Ebay. Cragislist. A plethora of online stores. It's extremely easy to buy a working 2600, 5200, 7800, etc.

Mike Reddy
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I'd love to have a Flashback2, but apart from original 2600s of dubious quality off eBay , you can't get new official hardware in the UK. I'd love an SD card FB3 to allow homebrew/modding.


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