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Classic Games (Games)

US Company Buys Commodore Brand For $33 Million 410

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the for-the-old-foggeys dept.
inKubus writes "Tulip Computers International BV -- which has held the rights to Commodore since 1997 -- said Thursday it will sell the once-mighty Commodore computer brand to U.S.-based Yeahronimo Media Ventures Inc. for 24 million euros, or $33 million. A company spokesman said they would "take actions" against possible copyright infringements of the Commodore name in the United States as well as release a new MP3 player and rerelease classic games."
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US Company Buys Commodore Brand For $33 Million

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  • by nharmon (97591) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @03:54PM (#11221394) Homepage
    There is a major problem with people swapping tape cartridges full of programs. Somebody needs to fight these pirates.
    • Yeah, and maybe the RIAA will come after me for the midi recording of "Hungry Like the Wolf" I have on a 5" floppy for my C64.
    • by Attar81 (574867)
      All you need is the secret password: Load"*",8,1
    • Re:After all... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by nocomment (239368) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @04:12PM (#11221621) Homepage Journal
      Actually I think the business plan goes something like this...

      1>notice people making joysticks with built-in games that play commodore games
      2>buy commodore name to sue those companies
      3>...
      4>profit!

      Once that plan is complete maybe they will buy Amiga.
      • Re:After all... (Score:3, Informative)

        by DJStealth (103231)
        Isn't that what Novell or SCO did with DR-DOS, to sue Microsoft for not allowing DR-DOS to run Windows 3.x?
      • by lordDallan (685707) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @05:47PM (#11222428)
        If you look at Yeahronimo's website, there's talk about selling ringtones and realtones (presumably for cellphones).

        Maybe they want to make a C64 emulator for cellphones and sell/rent old C64 games to cellphone customers.
      • Re:After all... (Score:3, Interesting)

        by cshark (673578)
        Something like that.

        It's more like

        1>Notice a little too late in the game that the brand still has some tangible value.

        2>buy commodore name and threaten to sue those companies so you get media coverage.

        3>make games yourself, and use brand to market new hardware and devices of some sort. (still an iffy proposition, because the brand has no credibility other than nostalgia at this point).

        4>profit... if you're smart and reaallly lucky.
      • Actually I think the business plan goes something like this...


        1>notice people making joysticks with built-in games that play commodore games
        2>buy commodore name to sue those companies
        3>...
        4>profit!
        Could be the general idea, but not in the case you named:
        They can't "sue those people" because they are "those people" [wards.net].
  • There goes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by temojen (678985) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @03:54PM (#11221397) Journal
    Another Canadian icon to the US attack-lawyers.
    • Commodore's heritage (Score:4, Informative)

      by WebCowboy (196209) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @07:23PM (#11223294)
      Commodore was started in Canada, and stayed alive because of a Canadian investor, but a "Canadian Icon"? By the time it reached prominence in the PC industry with the VIC20 and C64 it was only Canadian in a nominal sense. Also something to keep in mind is that the corporate behaviour of some of the early Commodore bigwigs would make an Enron executive blush.

      Commodore was founded by Jack Tramiel, who was a Polish-born American citizen, established Commodore in Canada to circumvent stricter import/export regulations in the US (some of Commodore's early office products and parts were imported from eastern Europe and relations between US and nations within the Soviet sphere of influence were obviously cooling). Co-founder CP Morgan might've been Canadian but I'm not sure. In any case, CP Morgan's company went bankrupt and the SEC thoroughly investigated Morgan for less-than-honest conduct. Later, Canadian Irving Gould invested in Commodore and kept it alive, but he was ultimately responsible for ousting Jack in the 80s. Gould was also noted for his not-quite-honest business practises. If I recall, Commodore International was incorporated offshore to avoid taxation, although the physical offices were in Canada.

      So....the "Canadian Icon" Commodore was founded by an American Citizen (a remarkable one who survived Auchwitz and had quite an acumen for business, but not Canadian) and incorporated offshore. The early Canadian investor (Morgan) had a minority stake and went bankrupt and nearly pulled Tramiel into a legal quagmire with his corporate hanky-panky. The next Canadian that stepped into the picture (Gould) outed the founder and let Jack take some of Commodore's best people with him over to Atari, then subsequently squandered the prize they snatched from Jack at Atari (the Amiga--which was a fantastic machine that was mismanaged into the ground).

      Since the Bankruptcy, what was left of Commodore never came back to Canada--it existed solely in Europe.

      As a Canadian myself, I think I'd find another Icon to be proud of.
  • by ackthpt (218170) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @03:55PM (#11221404) Homepage Journal
    Let me get this straight...

    A group of investors actually wants the name associated with a company whose business strategy was best summed up as:

    Ready

    Fire!

    Aim

    • yeh - why would anyone want to be associated with the single-best-selling computer system, ever?

      they had a damn good business strategy, amazing engineers, good products.

      just an effing corrupt CEO.
      • they had a damn good business strategy,

        I take it you never saw the Superbowl commercial for the Amiga.

        It was traumatic for those of us who were trying to get other to buy into it. I've still got my A2000 right here. Excellent product, but the marketing was horrendously inept.

      • There was basically no advertising for the Amiga and what there was, was uninspiring. The Amiga basically had to rely on word-of-mouth advertising over here in the US and that meant they couldn't sell enough units to make the piles of money necessary to keep abreast of the PC. Also, their choice of the MC68k architecture, a good idea at the time, ended up hurting them as PC processors rapidly outstripped them. Remember when that happened to the mac? PPC came too late to help Amiga, and almost too late to he
        • It was a lot of things.

          - It was a CEO making 10+ million a year when his company was going down the tube.

          - It was paying $800,000 a month for a huge factory building in West Chester, PA when most of manufacturing had long ago moved overseas.

          - It was C= snubbing of third parties like Newtek (Video Toaster guys), until it was WAY too late.

          - It was C= thinking they could sell crappy PC's under their name better than their own original product. They lost MILLIONS on those.

          The fact that they lost the MHz wa
    • Nothing wrong with that strategy - I do it in counter strike all the time - especially with flash grenades. Makes for pretty blinding white light.
    • How funny that EA.com's strategy was "Ready, Fire!, Aim." As a (now thankfully ex-)EA.com employee I even got a shirt that said that.

      brilliance, no?

  • by slakdrgn (531347) <cabe@d[ ].net ['rgn' in gap]> on Thursday December 30, 2004 @03:55PM (#11221406) Homepage
    ...abandonware isn't really abandonware. Now, I'm wondering if they bought the name just so they could make money out of lawsuits. If they do, and it works, I wonder how many other companies will attempt to by rights to long and outdated software just to attempt to raise their bottom line by sueing everyone.
    • 33 million from lawsuits?

      I doubt that they are going to get that much from college kids.
    • Now, I'm wondering if they bought the name just so they could make money out of lawsuits. If they do, and it works, I wonder how many other companies will attempt to by rights to long and outdated software just to attempt to raise their bottom line by sueing everyone.

      Hey! Don't knock it. I mean, look what's it's done for SCO, and they don't even have a case or own the copyrights in question. These guys will at least have the pretense of a broken leg to stand on.

    • I should be able to make a few bucks from all these infringers of "The Quest for the Rings"!
    • by Schnapple (262314) <tomkidd@@@viatexas...com> on Thursday December 30, 2004 @04:17PM (#11221674) Homepage
      Thing is, when people pine for the Commodore 64 they're either nostalgic over the ancient implementations of things like word processors or databases, or nostalgic over games.

      No one is still insisting that Paperclip was better than Microsoft Word or OpenOffice.org Write (though I'm sure a few will as soon as I hit "submit"), so apps are out.

      As for games, people still love old C64 games. That Joystick on QVC with the games on it is selling enough to have its own hacking community and people are still psycho about games like M.U.L.E. (my Wife wants me to get one of those joysticks and hack Caveman Ughlympics on it - I'd prefer Fort Apocalypse myself).

      Thing is, Commodore themselves didn't write many games. M.U.L.E. was Electronic Arts of all things, Fort Apocalypse was Synapse Software (long dead of course).

      Just buying out the "Commodore" name won't allow them to sue abandonware sites. There *might* be something they can do to emulator authors, but that's doubtful.

      They bought the "Commodore" name since it's still a powerful brand in people's minds. They'll see Commodore MP3 players and Commodore 64 joysticks in stores and think "wow, Commodore is still around..." Look at the sheer number of people who think Atari is the same company with the same people. Heck, when I was working at Babbage's in 1999 when Hasbro had the new games under the Atari name (Windows CD-ROM's) I had people come up to me and ask if they "needed their old Atari" to play these games.

      • I was going to state the very same. The C64 was one of the most popular computers in history, and had a lot, A LOT, of software written for it, mostly games. But Commodore wrote little of those.
      • What absolutely kills me about the Commodore -> joystick thing is that QVC is selling it.

        I can quote QVC's corporate office address from memory -- 1200 Wilson Drive, West Chester, PA.

        WHY would I know such a completely useless piece of trivia?

        Grab a Phily-metro telephone book from the early 80's --

        Commodore Business Machines Inc. -- 1200 Wilson Drive, West Chester, PA

        Oh the irony....

  • Finally (Score:3, Funny)

    by Stevyn (691306) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @03:55PM (#11221411)
    some true innovation!
  • Wow, (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Megaweapon (25185) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @03:55PM (#11221416) Homepage
    a 6502-based MP3 player! (Or is that 6210?) Whichever, the "Commodore name" to most people isn't a modern-centric concept. It's a historical relic (an important one, sure, but has no basis in modern computing).
    • HAHA, I just had a vision of an iPod-like commercial of a guy dancing around to a SIDplayer (like midi) rendition of U2's "vertigo".

      picture it, it's funny. Maybe the black shadow man, would just stand there for a mintue and then walk away.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    "A company spokesman said they would "take actions" against possible copyright infringements of the Commodore name in the United States as well as release a new MP3 player and rerelease classic games."

    Seriously. Is Commodore really still popular?

    Isn't infringing on them, like infringing on a dead body?
    • Re:It's dead, Jim. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by malfunct (120790)
      Sounds fun, combating copyright infringement by releasing a device that will most likely play material that was obtained by infringing copyright :)
  • Oh cool. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DrEldarion (114072) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @03:56PM (#11221420)
    rerelease classic games."

    I wonder if this means we'll get C64 games on those little joystick-that-plugs-into-the-tv things that are so popular nowadays.
    • I wonder if this means we'll get C64 games on those little joystick-that-plugs-into-the-tv things that are so popular nowadays.

      They just did that a couple of weeks back. You search Slashdot for it; I'm too lazy :)

      Personally, I want an Atari 800/XL/XE version, preferably hackable (and certainly the 'real thing' from an end-user POV, none of that rewritten nonsense that the Intellivision device got slagged off for).
      • I wasn't [slashdot.org]

        But searching for it meant I wasn't the first to reply. :-(

        There are other stories related to this device that the original poster can search for though.

    • Re:Oh cool. (Score:4, Informative)

      by stratjakt (596332) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @04:02PM (#11221493) Journal
      That Jeri Ellsworth chick is already selling exactly such a device through the home shopping channel. It's got Impossible Mission and Summer Games and other old chestnuts built in, and looks quite hackable too.

      It was on slashdot a couple weeks ago.

      More likely, this Yeahanomorinono Media Venture Concern (is that REALLY a US company?!) will sue her ass into a hole.

      Anyone know whats up with her or Commodore One? Is she using the Commodore name legally?

      Too bad this company has no vision. To hell with mp3 players and re-selling old games, I'd love to see them update the Amiga, a la the G4 Mac and OS/X.

      That I'd pay for.
      • They won't touch the Amiga. That's a separate brand under a separate ownership. And OS4 is still "coming"... :)
      • Re:Oh cool. (Score:2, Insightful)

        That Jeri Ellsworth chick is already selling exactly such a device through the home shopping channel

        From an earlier interview I believe she only acted as a consultant to the company that actually produces the device, so she should be rather safe from that perspective. The company that produces the device plus anybody using that Commodore name for profit will be sued into oblivion.
    • That already exists actually. Just as likely, this means that'll get sued out of existence!
    • Re:Oh cool. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by eyeball (17206)
      I wonder if this means we'll get C64 games on those little joystick-that-plugs-into-the-tv things that are so popular nowadays.

      So here's what they're going to do -- sue as many of those small-time chinese c64 joystick manufacturers and sellers, online emulators, rom sites, etc.. then make their own just in time for the fad to be well over (I predict next xmas).
    • But I'm assuming your post was sarcastic..

      However, many others wont know this ( which is apparent by you being modded as 'interesting', and not 'funny'.
  • So... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Stick_Fig (740331) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @03:56PM (#11221422) Homepage
    How much you want to bet that this corporation will pretty much do nothing but get pissy towards a bunch of emulator/C64-on-a-chip authors and not actually do anything with the company's legacy?

    I mean, really, it's pretty much been empty promises since about 1992 from the Commodore/Amiga crowd, and the Commodore kicked the bucket.

  • oh goody (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday December 30, 2004 @03:56PM (#11221423) Homepage Journal
    A company whose primary product seems (from their website) to be a DRM scheme is buying the commodore brand - remember, this is the company that gave out schematics with their computers. Doesn't sound like it makes sense to me. The only people who care about C= are geeks who will know better...
  • by Kobun (668169) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @03:56PM (#11221426)
    Perhaps they could release a kit commodore as well, it has been a long time since beginners to computing could sit down and build their own computer from the chips up. Be a great learning tool to see again... Or, I could take the 6502 and finish work that bending robot in the garage...
  • Commodore is dead (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CharAznable (702598) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @03:57PM (#11221444)
    Branding is such a scam... Like putting the name Commodore on any crap box is going to make it magically like a C64 or an Amiga.. People are not that stupid... Same goes for Napster. The old Napster is gone, forever. Using the name won't make it anything like the real thing.

    • Branding is such a scam... Like putting the name Commodore on any crap box is going to make it magically like a C64 or an Amiga..

      Which begs the question; WTF is happening with the Amiga legacy at the moment?

      I stopped following Amiga developments circa 1995, when the new Amiga owners wanted to re-release the ageing A1200 for 100 pounds *more* than it had been selling for when C= went bankrupt. (Even then I knew the difference between trying to get the Amiga back into the mainstream, and squeezing the
        • With respect, is this intended as a serious commercial product, or is it just something for the hobbyists? If the former, *why* should the rest of us care about Amiga OS 4.0?

          (Yes; I know the Amiga OS beat the heck out of Windows/DOS in its day. I was one of those defending it. But now it's dissociated from the hardware, and OSs have changed a lot in the past 10 years.)

          The problem with the Amiga sites is that they all seem designed for people already familiar with the current situation- i.e. die-hard Ami
      • The problem is that the folks that buy brand names don't get what's it all about. I would buy an Amiga, even with a propriety OS if it would do what the Amiga did. Wich was from my definition:

        - look cool in my living room
        - have a slick gui with extreme ease of use
        - interoperate with my stereo and TV
        - run software that gets the job done
        - offer all this at an affordable price

        So far I could just get out and buy an iMac, but here's the hurdle:

        - be the perfect gameconsole, run every hot game out there AND is
  • Commodore rocked back in the day. However, about this new company declaring it will "go after" infringers: the only reason anyone still knows about the Commodore brand is because of the dedication of those who could be considered infringers on the name. Great tactic - use the community to keep a brand name from totally dying out, then turn around and unleash the legal dogs on the very ones who kept it viable. Whatever...
  • by sellers (89043) <cgseller.mac@com> on Thursday December 30, 2004 @04:00PM (#11221478) Homepage
    Is this really a US company ? Looks like a EU company or did I miss something ?

    Sports & Events
    E-mail: info@yeahronimo.com

    Yeahronimo Media Ventures Inc.
    Ms. Roxanne Pons
    Public Relations
    Tel: +31 35 543 05 07
    E-mail: press@yeahronimo.com

    Company Address Europe (Operational Offices)
    Hermesweg 15
    3741 GP BAARN
    The Netherlands

    Company Address USA
    Yeahronimo Media Ventures Inc
    433 N. Camden Dr., Suite 600
    Beverly Hills, Ca. 90210 USA
    Phone: +1 213 379 0540
    Fax: +1 310 362 8608
  • http://arstechnica.com/reviews/games/pirates.ars It may be too much to hope for, but if they would release versions of the old games with improved graphics, I'd buy their stuff.
  • As a former Commodore user (only got rid of my Amiga about a year ago) one really has to wonder what the point is?

    New Amigas? Kinda late for that don'tcha think?

    A shell for nothing but endless litigation? Maybe Darl can get a job there after SCO's shareholders call for his head. Even then sounds like Tulip pulled a coup actually getting a sucker to spend more than 2 cents for the name.

    Commodore is dead. They had sushi in the Amiga and they sold it as fish
    • New Amigas? Kinda late for that don'tcha think?

      When Jobs came back to Apple, people were saying "New Macs? Kinda late for that don'tcha think?"

      Not that that's going to happen here. They just want some trademarks to sue people over.

      Though I'd love to see the Amiga updated and rereleased, a la the newer Macs. One can dream.
  • True Value (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Luminous (192747) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @04:02PM (#11221503) Journal
    Would the Commodore name have that value today if it wasn't for all the C-64/Amiga User Groups that kept the legacy alive for all these years? These are the same people that will get sued first, I'm willing to bet.
  • by CrazyJim1 (809850)
    If people with C64s could play MMOGS, those special characters would be making some wacked out letterings.

    And one of the funniest things to do on a c64 is make it acid trip. You do this: Randomize(some int), get 2 random numbers, poke one number into the other's address, loop it. So its one crazy poke fest. I've seen the screen split into 4 pieces change colors and scroll wildly. Its funny because your computer goes nuts. You can't do it on a PC because it might erase your harddrive or something serio
  • by shimbee (444430) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @04:05PM (#11221542)
    Names can't be copyrighted...they'd be taking action against uses of the name under TRADEMARK law.

    There are a couple of issues they might run into:

    1) continuous use -- has the trademark been in continuous use over the years? They can't just abandon it and pick it back up

    2) passing off - if no one else is "passing themselves off" as the Commodore computer company, they probably don't have an action.

    overall, if their investment plan is litigation, i think they are in a craptacular situation
  • ...that QVC is selling? I remember reading in the artical on Slashdot about the "hot" girl who developed the design for that product that there was some question about licensing.

    In other words, I doubt there is much money in going after people writing C64 emulators, but there might be in chasing the company supplying QVC, or even QVC.

    Just curious and hoping some more knowledgele people will add real information to this.
  • This could be a real market potential... turning those power supplies into home heating units.
  • The real money is in Rear Admiral (lower half) Computers.
  • by The I Shing (700142) * on Thursday December 30, 2004 @04:18PM (#11221700) Journal
    Bring back the VIC-20!
    I want my 1MHZ of screaming power, with 5K of RAM!
  • Is it really a US company? All the board members and the advisors have dutch names, and their pressroom sites a dutch press release on their intent to buy the Commodore brand from Tulip.

    I really wonder how this will affect the C64 DTV stick just released. I'm in Europe, so I still haven't been able to get one of these.
  • by Progman3K (515744) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @04:20PM (#11221718)
    Nothing like the promise of lawsuits to drum up business.
  • by Phexro (9814) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @04:22PM (#11221738)
    Sod the MP3 player. MP3 is dead. What they need is a portable SIDfile player.

    Though I'd probably get some strange looks as I rock out to the "Commando" theme on the bus.
  • Do their plans to clamp down also include going after harmless emulators? Both software and in FPGA's ?

    Good thing i got my DTV already..
  • by AviLazar (741826) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @04:27PM (#11221784) Journal
    1) Buy old, fairly defunct company
    2) Decry copyright infringements about defunct company (that nobody knew existed anymore)
    3) Sue people
    4) Make Profit!!!

    Hey I was able to complete all the steps...sound's like a familiar tactic from our favorite companies.
  • Didn't a similar situation happen to Atari?
  • It just occurred to me that they could sue Rockstar for their Commodore-like intro in GTAVC...

    I hope not though
  • by Ghostgate (800445) on Thursday December 30, 2004 @05:29PM (#11222286)
    Oh no! They aren't going to go after Jeri Ellsworth, are they? She can hide out at my place!

    Jeri! You read Slashdot, right? Send me a message. In the meantime, I'll go get our, uh.. I mean YOUR bed ready!

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