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Bootleg Consoles Attract Lawsuit From Atari

Bootleg Consoles Attract Lawsuit From Atari

July 6, 2011 | By Frank Cifaldi




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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