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Atari Targets Retro Community With Cease & Desist 219

Posted by timothy
from the make-friends-influence-people dept.
svenski writes "Atari User reports that Atari Inc. have begun to target the retro community and have now turned their attentions to atari2600.org, a website first registered in 2000, demanding the domain name be handed over."
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Atari Targets Retro Community With Cease & Desist

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  • Trademark Dilution (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 22, 2011 @04:06PM (#37170816)

    Eleven years of no enforcement means they effectively gave up all rights to the name. See you in court, Atari.

    • by MichaelCrawford (610140) on Monday August 22, 2011 @04:34PM (#37171224) Homepage Journal

      Trademarks are special in that you lose them if you don't enforce them. That's not the case with copyrights, patents or trade secrets. If you don't defend your trademark, then the law holds that your mark becomes part of the language, so that you don't own it anymore.

      I learned of this when Saks 41st Avenue sent a C&D letter to a small clothing store called Sacks 41st Avenue in Capitola, California. It made the front page of the local paper. Saks' attorney told the reporter who asked about it that they had to defend their trademark or they would lose it.

      The problem though is that whoever administers the domain name dispute resolution policy may not apply the trademark law. It is possible that Atari could take the domain because they registered their trademark before the website registered their domain. Because their trademark is no longer enforceable, they have no rights to the domain, but ICANN may not heed that fact and so force the register to hand the domain over to Atari.

      • It is not a real website. I looked at it. It looks like something a domain name squatter would make. It is a 1 paragraph description followed by about 8 links to another domain. Nothing of value would be lost if this site goes away. No links would be broken. No content lost. This guy is just hoping for a buy out.
      • by Guspaz (556486)

        Because their trademark is no longer enforceable, they have no rights to the domain, but ICANN may not heed that fact and so force the register to hand the domain over to Atari.

        They're not supposed to according to the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy [icann.org]:

        All registrars must follow the the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (often referred to as the "UDRP"). Under the policy, most types of trademark-based domain-name disputes must be resolved by agreement, court action, or arbitration before a registrar will cancel, suspend, or transfer a domain name. Disputes alleged to arise from abusive registrations of domain names (for example, cybersquatting) may be addressed by expedited administrative proceedings that the holder of trademark rights initiates by filing a complaint with an approved dispute-resolution service provider.

        To invoke the policy, a trademark owner should either (a) file a complaint in a court of proper jurisdiction against the domain-name holder (or where appropriate an in-rem action concerning the domain name) or (b) in cases of abusive registration submit a complaint to an approved dispute-resolution service provider (see below for a list and links).

    • by jd2112 (1535857)

      Eleven years of no enforcement means they effectively gave up all rights to the name. See you in court, Atari.

      We have more money and lawyers than you. If it goes to court we will bankrupt you even if you win. - Atari lawyer. (Probably not said directly, but implied.)

  • by Reverand Dave (1959652) on Monday August 22, 2011 @04:08PM (#37170832)
    There seems to be news like this in abundance. When corporate profits start to sag, or don't skyrocket the legal teams start looking for people to mess with to rack up billable hours. It's disgusting to say the least how willing these companies are to alienate fans in pursuit of profits.
    • by SomePgmr (2021234) on Monday August 22, 2011 @04:12PM (#37170908) Homepage
      I'm not sure abusively litigious behavior is tied to failure. Apple, for example.
      • by tlhIngan (30335) <slashdot@wSLACKWAREorf.net minus distro> on Monday August 22, 2011 @04:16PM (#37170956)

        I'm not sure abusively litigious behavior is tied to failure. Apple, for example.

        Funny thing is, Apple is doing it wrong, literally. No patent troll sues to keep a product off the market - you have to wait until the product is wildly successful, perhaps close to the end of the patent term, THEN you sue for massive damages. Plus, Apple is filing everywhere but East Texas, sheesh. Everyone knows you use East Texas to make life easy.

        Suing to keep a product off the market means you give up whatever profits you could've made had that product been successful.

        • by hedwards (940851) on Monday August 22, 2011 @04:19PM (#37171008)

          Patent trolls don't generally have a competing product. The amount of money that Apple stands to gain by having a competitor locked out of the market is likely to be a lot more than what they can reasonably collect if they win a later patent case.

          But more importantly, it keeps competitors out of the minds of possible consumers.

        • by SomePgmr (2021234) on Monday August 22, 2011 @04:27PM (#37171124) Homepage
          I guess it's fair to say there's more than one reason companies will abuse the legal system. Patent trolling is just one. Apple appears to be hyper-protective of their business at the expense of even their biggest fans. And as you pointed out, less interested in looking for compensatory damages to make up for any kind of lost revenue than just keeping everything secret and dissimilar from their own products.

          I'd argue that trolling as a business model is nastier, in that it usually manifests as a fishing with dynamite approach. But I could certainly be wrong.
          • by steelfood (895457)

            I'd argue that trolling as a business model is nastier.

            That's like saying you'd like to be just killed, as opposed to being raped and killed.

            The analogy's a bit extreme, but that's effectively what patent trolls and patent aggressors (and arguably abusers) like Apple are doing; Apple's using their patents to kill any and all potential competitors, and patent trolls are raping the industry first before killing the product. A big company might shell out the extra cost of the "license" to a patent troll, but a smaller company has no chance.

            In my book, both are wro

        • -m.

          I've been working on an iOS app for a while. While Objective-C and Cocoa Touch are pretty nice to work with, I am sick to death of Apple's corporate control freak mentality. The fact that I cannot run code I wrote myself on an iOS device I bought with my own cash is, frankly, offensive.

          Now I can pay $99 to be an iOS developer, which gives me a digital certificate that allows me to load my own binaries on my devices. I can also get certificates that allow for Ad Hoc distribution on other devices for be

          • That's Just Right. (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Half-pint HAL (718102) on Monday August 22, 2011 @05:32PM (#37172006)

            You're missing the point -- Apple wants to sell the thing that always works. Keeping things pinned down minimises crashes. Minimising crashes means higher user satisfaction, which builds the brand.

            User freedom is also known as "enough rope to hang yourself".

            Apple have been very clever and relied on the "appstore goldrush" to ensure that millions of different app developers can produce enough to satisfy the hundreds of significant use-cases of the phone. The ecosystem is saturated, so the loss of a few is no problem at all.

            • I've reported lots of iOS bugs to Apple.

              I even had my iPhone kernel panic right at the start of a demo of my app during a job interview. I had to forcibly reboot my phone while the clients waited impatiently. They cut the interview short and would not let me complete my demo, no doubt thinking that the kernel panic was a bug in my userspace app.

              I am not at all impressed by the quality of the apps that I've downloaded from the App Store, not even the ones I've paid money for. Even if you don't have an iOS

            • by sjames (1099)

              Their problem is that they have limited the use cases to those where a developer can afford to write the effort off if their app gets rejected for some arbitrary and never disclosed reason.

              As the market settles out a bit and the novelty comes off of the iJesus, that will likely weigh against them.

          • by tepples (727027)

            I'll develop for iOS if a client pays me to do it, but for all of my own titles, I'm going to focus on Android.

            Here's a sample of letters you might get:

            Dear Mr. Crawford,

            I want to try your application, but I don't plan to subscribe to smartphone service. My current dumbphone with $5/mo Virgin Mobile USA service handles my mobile voice needs acceptably. If you ported your application to iOS, I could use it on an iPod touch. But as it is now, there really isn't an Android device comparable to the iPod touch, namely a pocket-size computer with access to the platform's most popular software distribution platform and w

            • There are more Android devices sold than iOs devices. I don't see how it is to my advantage to stay with a platform that is losing market share. Maybe there is no Android answer to the iPod Touch, but I don't expect things will stay that way.

              • There are more Android devices sold than iOs devices.

                This is true of phones, but is it true of the Wi-Fi-only device that a mom is likely to buy for her children? An iPod touch competes more with a Nintendo DSi: something on which to play games and music, possibly carried along with a separate dumbphone on the cheapest available prepaid plan that lets the child call home in an urgency.

                Maybe there is no Android answer to the iPod Touch, but I don't expect things will stay that way.

                Then in what quarter of what year do you expect the Galaxy Player, or Galaxy S Wi-Fi, or whatever Samsung is calling it nowadays, to become widely available in the United States

            • by makomk (752139)

              There are Android phones available that are as cheap as the iPod Touch (if not quite as capable) and can be used on PAYG. This is especially true in countries other than the US with decent mobile providers.

    • by Haedrian (1676506)

      Now now...

      You think the lawyers' private jets are going to pay for themselves?

  • by eagee (1308589) on Monday August 22, 2011 @04:08PM (#37170848)
    Because they couldn't find a better way to look like assholes.
    • And, because the best way to enhance brand value is to piss of the few people who might actually care about it. Are the actually teaching Stupid in business school these days?
  • They can't steal atari2600.org just because they feel like it's theirs. Make them take it to arbitration [icann.org], they have no case.

    • by hedwards (940851)

      Except that ICANN has to abide by rulings made by courts in the US. Atari has no obligation to take it to arbitration since there is no licensing deal that mandates arbitration.

      • by mysidia (191772) *

        Except that ICANN has to abide by rulings made by courts in the US.

        That's nice, but ICANN has no authority over it; that all rests with the domain registrar. So it will depend on which country the registrar is located in.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      Unfortunately they can. Fighting Atari would require the hobbiest to show up in court halfway around the world. He can't do that, so Atari can do whatever they want.

      • by lennier (44736)

        Fighting Atari would require the hobbiest

        Fortunately you don't have to be the hobbiest, just hobbier than the next hobbyist.

  • Do they still exist? I thought they went bust decades ago.

    • They exist only as a software company now, producing games for other companies like Sega now does.
    • by Heed00 (1473203)
      Infogrames bought the name and rolled it out for the first time for the release of the Bioware developed Neverwinter Nights. Neverwinter Nights 2 was also published under the Atari brand along with some other titles over the years.
    • According to Wikipedia, the company was split up into many pieces, with different pieces having rights to the name. Hasbro owns the games, a French company owns part of it, etc. Makes me wonder who is paying the "Atari" lawyer. I guess I'd bet on Hasbro, they can be pretty grumpy about playing games with their name.
  • "Estoppel Defense" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lkcl (517947) <lkcl@lkcl.net> on Monday August 22, 2011 @04:17PM (#37170974) Homepage

    i've just written this to the blog-writer: Please use the "Estoppel" Legal Defense. There's no way that Atari have not known of the existence for 12 years of the atari2600.org domain name.

    The "Estoppel" defense states that if you ignore something, it is tantamount to "acquiescence" - i.e. "silent consent".

    thus it can be claimed that Atari has "Silently Consented" to the use of this domain name, by virtue of them not having done anything for well over a decade.

    • Any the details of your legal education are... what exactly?

    • by MWoody (222806)

      Which, in turn, will continue to teach companies that they're fools not to sue everyone immediately for every little possible violation.

      The law of unintended consequences is indeed a bitch.

  • Idea! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Haedrian (1676506)

    I'll start a company called "www." and then sue every website in the world which has my name in its entirety in its website address.

    Profits!

  • by tekrat (242117) on Monday August 22, 2011 @04:20PM (#37171026) Homepage Journal

    Sure... some MBA lawyer douchebag ressurects the name Atari to make money off the Atari fanboys, and then proceeds to shit all over the exact fanbase he hopes to profit from. I assume this guy used to work at Sony?

    I say we go out and register ATARI*****.com (replace asteriks with whatever suits your fancy), and under contact info assign all rights to Nolan Bushnell.

    Let's see how smart these douches are.

  • by shadowrat (1069614) on Monday August 22, 2011 @04:22PM (#37171052)
    There's no way i'm buying the nextgen Atari console now!
  • Is this a real site? (Score:5, Informative)

    by ZombieBraintrust (1685608) on Monday August 22, 2011 @04:33PM (#37171210)
    I navigated to atari2600.org It doesn't look like the author is really using the domain. It is nothing but a title and a few links to another domain www.taswegian.com No blog, no community, no content. Just let them have it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 22, 2011 @04:36PM (#37171242)

    They're also sending letters to any hobbyist showing an Atari logo... even in a demo scene production.

    http://www.atariage.com/forums/topic/186151-ive-got-email-from-atari-today/

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Monday August 22, 2011 @04:51PM (#37171450)

    Nintendo, Sony, MS--they've all had their heydeys. But the next generation will be ruled by the Atari Jaguar Series 2. They're going to launch with new versions of "Adventure" and "Combat" that will make everyone who even sees the trailers orgasm uncontrollably. You heard it here first.

  • Such long copyrights and brand names being traded around is pure laziness. The people buying brands and capitalising on IP created nearly 30 years ago.

    Personally I see that there's a case for having all patents, copyright and other IP die with the company when they go bust. It offers an incentive to be creative and not take massive risks.

  • Unless the brand has changed hands again, it's just that, a brand name only, in the hands of a French [queue nationalist jokes] game publisher named Infogrames. The name "Atari" has been just as meaningless as "Memorex" for quite a long time.

  • by Beorytis (1014777) on Monday August 22, 2011 @05:41PM (#37172126)
    Back when atari2600.org was registered, was the .org TLD only available to non-commercial entities? That would have precluded any action from Atari to take the domain then.
    • by sootman (158191)

      Anyone has been able to register any domain (.com, .org, .net) since the mid/late-1990s. I don't think there was ever any real enforcement on the whole "com for commercial, org for organizations, net for networks" thing.

      • by mysidia (191772) *

        There was no "enforcement", but at a time it was against convention, and it's still against convention and policy for the .ORG TLD, that an ORG domain be registered and utilized for a commercial web site.

  • Really Atari? 11 years later and NOW you want the domain? Go scratch your ass you f'in douchebags.
  • Laches is the legal term for sitting on your ass while your rights are being violated. After too much ass-sitting, you'll be equitably estopped from asserting any legal rights that you had.

    Add Atari to my do not buy list.

  • I find it interesting that they targeted a barely used domain instead of going after http://www.atari2600.com/ [atari2600.com] which actually sells merchandise or http://www.atariage.com/ [atariage.com] my guess is that they're going after the low-hanging fruit first.

  • Atari still exists?

  • This another example of 21st century SEO created by the DMCA.

    If you search Google for Atari,. their mark, there are a bunch of pages that show up on Google search that are not Atari.com. I'll bet that totally pisses off their marketing/sales department, esp. so they send their legal folks off to "fix it at all costs"

    IOW.... possibly PR / "marketing effort" in preparation for new products.

    How long before companies start threatening to sue people for sending Tweets or status updates with their com

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