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Atari legal actions against emulators continue


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#51 Atari8bitCarts OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 11, 2012 9:11 PM

I think that big business see's their Patents, Copyrights, and trademarks as their assets, rightfully so. Look at Kodak, it is willing to go belly up bankrupt instead of selling just a few of it's patents. Most companies make more money on those than originally producing the item, etc.
With that being said, I think Atari looks at it like you either protect all against everyone, or why do anything at all. With China knocking off EVERYTHING in such a manner that it's hard to tell who made it, it must be hard to fight off pirates. Maybe they (Atari) go after this stuff since it is a line in the sand that they don't want to lose. All those titles, etc must have (as said before) massive recycling oppurtunity, and maybe emulators are getting in the way of their long term plan???

As a software developer I own all my software (licenses), but for fun I do have key generators for all the software. Making one (cracking one copy) isn't so bad, someone giving out hundreds becomes an issue (as they see it, and should). For Adobe, as an example, that's big money lost.

So we can say these systems are old, who would want them, but the titles might still have marketing and real asset value. Just a thought.

And yes, we can build a car, etc and not provide the engine. But someone still needs to make the engine. Emulator example needing OS's. It's pretty apparent.
Or can it be thought as making the gun, but not making the bullets.

Edited by chrislynn5, Wed Jan 11, 2012 9:12 PM.


#52 CyranoJ OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Jan 11, 2012 10:34 PM

ironically, ultraHLE's main programmer, realityman also coded the first jaguar emulator...


Why is that ironic?

#53 sack-c0s OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 12, 2012 3:44 AM

There are some occasions where it works the other way around, sometimes the biggies actually use an emulator in their big release. I'm sure I've seen Steve Snakes Fusion or earlier version actually on one of Sega's MD greatest hits disk ;)


Last I saw he was working on the emulation stuff behind a good chunk of the retro titles on Xbox live arcade - but that was a couple of years ago now, so I have no idea where he is.

Incidentally - I haven't finished coding a full machine emulator yet, but during uni I did get a 26-bit ARM CPU emulator up and running (so won't really run anything that modern without a major overhaul), a bare-minimum implementation of the Acorn VIDC and a handful of hosted system calls that let me run some of my old games code on the PC. It was coding and validating that which got me this dev job funnily enough.

And let's not get started on 'how many games developers are now profiting off the back of hard work put in by ex-crackers'....

#54 TwiliteZoner OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 12, 2012 5:04 AM

I understand defending your IP, but at some point you would think that common sense has to rule the day?

Is Xerox going to go after anyone that uses a Star Workstation emulator? Should they? Are they losing money because of it? Didn't Apple get it for free?

Edited by TwiliteZoner, Thu Jan 12, 2012 5:06 AM.


#55 WizWor OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 12, 2012 5:10 AM

I know what they are doing, that are killing the competition. This company is responsible for making emulators for Atari Inc http://www.codemysti...echnology.shtml
Why would you pay $10 to play 100 games, if you could get them for free. Most of us probably have all the games we want to play anyway. I got bunch of legal game compilations on PSP and PS2, I got them because I like the presentation and I know it will work properly. I believe that Emulators and Compilations will coexist together, but I do believe that Atari or any other publisher needs to include better games in their compilations if they want to sell more. How about "Build Your Own Compilation" option, choose any 10-20 games from the library and pay one price.
In the internet era you cant remove content completely, you can make it harder to get, and this is what they are doing.

You're right. They see a market for the old games. They can repackage their owns stuff for short money but it would be difficult and expensive to compete head-to-head with a free competitor that can play anything.

They do allow for the purchase of individual games and $10 is short money for a good emulator and a bunch of games. Unfortunately, the games I wanted most to play were not available.

How about if they sold the emulator including roms and a collection of games but allowed opening of other file images?

Edited by WizWor, Thu Jan 12, 2012 5:13 AM.


#56 TwiliteZoner OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 12, 2012 7:29 AM

Does Atari even have the rights to the computer stuff?

Edited by TwiliteZoner, Thu Jan 12, 2012 7:29 AM.


#57 Rybags OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 12, 2012 7:43 AM

That's a valid question.

The split in the 80s saw the arcade and home/console divisions go their seperate ways.

If you follow the trail, it seems that the arcade division (Atari Games) went through a succession of owners and ended back with Time-Warner.
http://en.wikipedia....iki/Atari_Games

It's Wiki, so only as reliable as whoever wrote the article.

The home rights to arcade titles "released so far" at the time would have been retained by Tramiel, and there's every chance it was a perpetual arrangement.

But what of the arcade titles that never saw home release or were licenced to other companies, or titles produced after the split?
And what about arcade titles licenced by Warner and Tramiel-era Atari originally produced by others like Williams and Stern?


So far as the computer stuff's concerned - I'd guess the current mob retain the rights. Most of the patents would either be expired or irrelevant now, but they only pertain to hardware.

Extra - Namco, owner of Atari Games (arcade) for a time are currently part owners of modern day Atari. So it's all a bit intertwined and complicated.

Edited by Rybags, Thu Jan 12, 2012 7:47 AM.


#58 Atari8bitCarts OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 12, 2012 8:45 AM

This was the subject of another post. That Jack purchased, at the end, tons of game rights yet never released the carts. So we had discussed, where did the rights go? The developers more than likely lost the rights via "work for hire". Then Atari went bankrupt, I thought, so where did the rights end up? Who bought some of the assets? But of course the rights might have only been "use" and the original development outfit retains them, but most of those shops closed, etc.

Interesting question. I tried to contact one of the companies a few months ago asking if they still had the rights, and could I produce, and receive no response. I remember when Bill Hogue asked KJMann to stop distributing his games, but did anyone check to see if Bill owed the rights? He might have given those up to his company Big Five and then lost them when they went belly up. That was the company's asset I assume.

Interesting....

#59 Rybags OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 12, 2012 8:58 AM

Define "developers" in this context though.

Outsourcing a game production doesn't mean you have to give any rights away.

Bankruptcy - I'm not sure Atari ever went bankrupt. The reverse merger with JTS was an obvious way to dissolve their involvement and walk away and probably minimise tax at the time.

So the Atari name lived on despite only one employee existing for a time.

Also, the properties at the time were old hat. Everyone was into PSX and PC gaming in 3D, even the hot properties of the 16-bit era became worthless for a while.

#60 Atari8bitCarts OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 12, 2012 9:35 AM

True, but these games as we get older are becoming million dollar assets, i.e. iPad and iPhone Atari retro games.
As for outsourcing, that wasn't what I meant. I meant that you can contract someone to code a game for you, or they can come to you with a game, and it depends on your agreement. Most developers at that time, as I understand it, gave up all rights to the mfg (i.e. Atari) to get their games out. Some might have held onto, at least, partial rights (i.e. "use" rights). Some companies "sold" the game rights to Atari, some just licensed it. It would depend on whomever "Acquired" those rights during aquistion, etc.

I wish there was a clearer way to determine who owns what. It is my understadning that Atari lost most of the assets to banks at that time, that would have been software rights (these are much more important than physical inventory and there isn't a lawyer out there that doesn't understand that.). Atari's inventory was sold for pennies on the dollar, etc.

#61 Rybags OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 12, 2012 9:44 AM

Before bankruptcy, JTS sold the Atari intellectual property to Hasbro. It'd probably be safe to assume any games rights were included in that deal.

The grey area though is arcade titles. With the unified Atari of the early 1980s, there were probably no agreements made or needed re doing home versions of their own games.
So... when Tramiel took over, what did he inherit in that regard? Right to produce future home version of existing arcade games, or only the rights associated with already completed products.

#62 mimo OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 12, 2012 12:45 PM

But could a third party OS be used with the emulator, qmeg for example. Surely then Atari have no comeback.
Where did the rights for the computer division go? Can curt help out?

#63 CharlieChaplin OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 12, 2012 1:10 PM

But could a third party OS be used with the emulator, qmeg for example. Surely then Atari have no comeback.
Where did the rights for the computer division go? Can curt help out?


Well,

the Atari XL/XE OS is 16k in size, QMEG OS is 16k in size - but afaik only somewhere between 1-4k are completely new (QMEG) OS code, the rest is still Atari OS code. Think most if not all other OS for the XL/XE did the same, they used the original Atari OS and changed only "some" of the code while leaving the rest intact and unchanged. Using such an alternative OS would not help you, since Atari still had some if not all rights over it (since there is still a lot of original Atari OS code in it and the authors of the alternative OS mostly never asked Atari to use+patch their OS nor did they buy a licence to do so)...

Think no-one ever created an OS for the 800 / XL / XE that is 100% his own code and 0% Atari OS code...

-Andreas Koch.

#64 Retro Rogue OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 12, 2012 1:25 PM

True, but these games as we get older are becoming million dollar assets, i.e. iPad and iPhone Atari retro games.
As for outsourcing, that wasn't what I meant. I meant that you can contract someone to code a game for you, or they can come to you with a game, and it depends on your agreement. Most developers at that time, as I understand it, gave up all rights to the mfg (i.e. Atari) to get their games out. Some might have held onto, at least, partial rights (i.e. "use" rights). Some companies "sold" the game rights to Atari, some just licensed it. It would depend on whomever "Acquired" those rights during aquistion, etc.


Most of the games for the Jaguar and Lynx were games Atari Corp. contracted out for, and in some cases (such as with Atari Games) bought licenses to use the IP. Any third party developers would have simply gotten a license to release their game on the console, which was common at the time (I.E. Bubsy).

I wish there was a clearer way to determine who owns what. It is my understadning that Atari lost most of the assets to banks at that time, that would have been software rights (these are much more important than physical inventory and there isn't a lawyer out there that doesn't understand that.). Atari's inventory was sold for pennies on the dollar, etc.


I'm not sure where you got that understanding from, Atari Corporation never went bankrupt. There was nothing lost to banks. Likewise, it's entire IP and physical inventory that was left under JTS was sold to Hasbro. By the time JTS sold off Atari Corp. (which was a division at JTS at that time) it was a single person at a desk and some warehouses of inventory (Jaguar, Lynx, computers, and older inventory from the Atari Inc. days).

The asset ownership has already been very clearly laid out. Anything Atari Corp. went to Hasbro and fell put under a division called Atari Interactive under Hasbro Interactive. Hasbro Interactive was then purchased by Infogrames and it's IP put under Infogrames Interactive. Infogrames Interactive was then renamed Atari Interactive and still exists to this day (they're the actual group in charge of monitory the IP, licensing, and sending out the cease and desists).

Atari Corporation itself had received Atari Inc.'s Consumer Division IP and facilities, including manufacturing and distribution. IP wise this included all console and computer related IP, including usage of Atari Inc.'s 1972-1984 coin-op titles for the home and ownership of their trademarks for the home. Coin was initially kept under Atari Inc. (which still existed for a time after the split) and then spun off as Atari Games. Atari Games was all the coin facilities, manufacturing, and distribution of Atari Inc. and it's coin-related patents and IP. Both companies initially shared the logo, but further negotiations shortly after had Atari Corporation fully owning the Fuji logo with Atari Games "licensing" it and paying Atari Corporation for its use up until it was sold to Midway years later.


Also, in regards to the original topic and some questions I saw by others -
Nothing in the 2600 hardware is protectable, and patents on TIA have long since expired and there is no bios. The only thing you can't do 2600 wise is use "Atari" or "2600" in a manner that promotes the emulator as if it's an official emulator. I.E. stating "Is an atari 2600 emulator" is more touchy than "is an emulator that allows you to play Atari 2600 games." Atari, Atari 2600, etc. are all still active copyrights.

Regarding the computers, 5200, 7800, and lynx, and Jaguar, the BIOS and related roms for those systems are all still under active copyright. You can not include them with your emulator. Likewise the naming issues still apply for those as well.

#65 Atari8bitCarts OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 12, 2012 1:36 PM

ok, I tried to trace through the mud at Hasbro to find out who owns it now. No luck, No response.
The other post, it was discussed that it could be that some company owns the rights yet doesn't even know it.

And how do you account for Best Electronics and B&C ending up with the inventory? Who did they actually buy it from?
But inventory still doesn't = license and ownwership rights.

I think the discussion is focused towards XE/XL, I can't comment on Lynx and Jaguar. But as for XL/XE you either worked directly for Atari or gave them your rights. :)

Edited by chrislynn5, Thu Jan 12, 2012 1:40 PM.


#66 Retro Rogue OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 12, 2012 1:44 PM

ok, I tried to trace through the mud at Hasbro to find out who owns it now. No luck, No response.
The other post, it was discussed that it could be that some company owns the rights yet doesn't even know it.

And how do you account for Best Electronics and B&C ending up with the inventory? Who did they actually buy it from?
But inventory still doesn't = license and ownwership rights.

I think the discussion is focused towards XE/XL, I can't comment on Lynx and Jaguar. But as for XL/XE you either worked directly for Atari or gave them your rights. :)


It looks like you didn't read my above post before responding? The ownership chain is very clear and has been discussed many times here.

#67 andym00 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 12, 2012 1:56 PM

I was under the impression that Warner Bros. Entertainment now own all the Atari Games IP since 2009 ?
http://www.sec.gov/A...51466exv2w1.htm

Not that it's relevant to this thread :)


(null)

#68 Retro Rogue OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 12, 2012 2:02 PM

I was under the impression that Warner Bros. Entertainment now own all the Atari Games IP since 2009 ?
http://www.sec.gov/A...51466exv2w1.htm

Not that it's relevant to this thread :)


(null)


Yes, they own anything that was previously Atari Games/Midway Games West.

#69 Atari8bitCarts OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 12, 2012 2:10 PM


ok, I tried to trace through the mud at Hasbro to find out who owns it now. No luck, No response.
The other post, it was discussed that it could be that some company owns the rights yet doesn't even know it.

And how do you account for Best Electronics and B&C ending up with the inventory? Who did they actually buy it from?
But inventory still doesn't = license and ownwership rights.

I think the discussion is focused towards XE/XL, I can't comment on Lynx and Jaguar. But as for XL/XE you either worked directly for Atari or gave them your rights. :)


It looks like you didn't read my above post before responding? The ownership chain is very clear and has been discussed many times here.


Clear, not to me. :)

food for thought:

http://classicgaming...s.Detail&id=397

http://www.atariage....ot-go-bankrupt/

http://spong.com/art...e-of-bankruptcy
http://news.softpedi...nse-70292.shtml

Check out Atari's stock price, ouch

and:
Atari, SA (2009-)
Main article: Atari, SA
In May 2009 Infogrames Entertainment, SA, the parent company of Atari Inc. and Atari Interactive Inc., announced it would be changing Infogrames' name to Atari, SA. In April 2010, Atari board member and former CEO David Gardner resigned. His replacement is Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell.[26]

#70 Hatta OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 12, 2012 2:14 PM

Who owns the trademarks is irrelevant. Nominative use of trademarks, that is as a proper noun accurately identifying the product, is protected by US trademark law. Saying "This is an emulator for Atari computers" is no different than saying "This is a USB hub for Apple computers". As long as you're not distributing ROMs (they're not, right?), it's entirely legal.

#71 Philsan OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 12, 2012 2:25 PM

To understand those things I think it's necessary to write a book regarding Atari history! ;)

#72 Retro Rogue OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 12, 2012 2:27 PM

And how do you account for Best Electronics and B&C ending up with the inventory? Who did they actually buy it from?


From Atari Corporation when they were liquidating inventory. The original Atari Inc, and Atari Corp. had warehouses and inventory all over the world. I'm not sure what the mystery is? Happens every day.

But inventory still doesn't = license and ownwership rights.

I think the discussion is focused towards XE/XL, I can't comment on Lynx and Jaguar. But as for XL/XE you either worked directly for Atari or gave them your rights. :)


Nope, that was only for the Atari Program Exchange and even then you shared rights. We ran in to that while working on the FB2+ and needing to get the rights from an APX author for a title on the 2600 we wanted to use. The 8-bit computers were all open platforms, after all they were personal computers and not closed consoles. Anyone can write and publish software for a personal computer, then or now.

Clear, not to me. :)


In what way? It looks like you're confusing Ataris?


food for thought:

http://classicgaming...s.Detail&id=397

http://www.atariage....ot-go-bankrupt/

http://spong.com/art...e-of-bankruptcy
http://news.softpedi...nse-70292.shtml


No, none of that has to do with Atari Corporation ever going bankrupt and there is zero food there. You're again confusing Ataris.

First, the other post you link to here at AA is in relation to Atari Corporation. Atari Corporation never declared bankruptcy as previously stated.

The other three (my article at classicgaming.com, the sprong story, and the softpedia story) all have to do with the second Atari Inc. When Infogrames renamed Infogrames Interactive in to Atari Interactive, they also renamed their North American subsidiary, Infogrames North America Inc. (formerly GT Interactive) to Atari Inc. Forced them to rename it more like it, Infogrames only had a majority of ownership and not complete. The new Atari Inc. was then forced to license the name and classic IP from Infograme full subsidiary Atari Interactive. They never owned the Atari name or IP, and when they were facing bankruptcy none of that was in danger of being lost. They also never declared bankruptcy, they wound up selling out the rest of the shares to Infogrames and became a wholly owned subsidiary. Atari Inc. was then gutted when Infogrames decided to get back in to publishing, with only a few people left now sharing office space with Atari Interactive's people - all in New York.


Check out Atari's stock price, ouch

and:
Atari, SA (2009-)
Main article: Atari, SA
In May 2009 Infogrames Entertainment, SA, the parent company of Atari Inc. and Atari Interactive Inc., announced it would be changing Infogrames' name to Atari, SA. In April 2010, Atari board member and former CEO David Gardner resigned. His replacement is Atari co-founder Nolan Bushnell.[26]


Yes, that's the french company Infogrames Entertainment SA, the parent company of Atari Interactive. After they got back in to publishing they renamed the company to Atari SA and then moved the headquarters to Los Angeles to be near the then newly acquired Cryptic Studios (which has now since been sold off).

So again, the chain of ownership of the IP is very clearly laid out. Myself and Curt have of course worked with Atari Interactive in the past and Atari Interactive's legal department, we're very familiar with who owns what.

#73 Atari8bitCarts OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 12, 2012 2:58 PM

Who owns the trademarks is irrelevant. Nominative use of trademarks, that is as a proper noun accurately identifying the product, is protected by US trademark law. Saying "This is an emulator for Atari computers" is no different than saying "This is a USB hub for Apple computers". As long as you're not distributing ROMs (they're not, right?), it's entirely legal.


Isn't that just semantics. You need the OS and ROM, without those the emulator means nothing. And if the emulator contains anything like the OS, etc then it is not clean. I.E. USB hub using someone else's technologies.
But by no means am I an expert on emulator's.

#74 Atari8bitCarts OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 12, 2012 3:00 PM

"So again, the chain of ownership of the IP is very clearly laid out. Myself and Curt have of course worked with Atari Interactive in the past and Atari Interactive's legal department, we're very familiar with who owns what. "

Ok, who owns the game rights, etc.

if Atari Games/Midway Games West, does anyone have contacts there? To find out the ROM question of creating and distributing, among other questions I have.
Which games do they own?

Thanx.

Edited by chrislynn5, Thu Jan 12, 2012 3:11 PM.


#75 Atari8bitCarts OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jan 12, 2012 3:04 PM

Who owns the trademarks is irrelevant. Nominative use of trademarks, that is as a proper noun accurately identifying the product, is protected by US trademark law. Saying "This is an emulator for Atari computers" is no different than saying "This is a USB hub for Apple computers". As long as you're not distributing ROMs (they're not, right?), it's entirely legal.


Trademarks wouldn't be the discussion here, or even close. Software is copyrighted as a literary work, I have many. And patents would be on the technologies or processes. I thought the discussion was on creating emulators, etc, not on the use of Atari's name.

Edited by chrislynn5, Thu Jan 12, 2012 3:06 PM.





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