Midway Mfg. Co. v. Bandai-America, Inc.
United States District Court for the District of New Jersey
Civil Action No. 81-3911
Decided July 22, 1982
We are currently updating our site with some posts about older high-profile video game lawsuits. You may have noticed several posts for video game lawsuits from the 1980s.
Plaintiffs Midway Manufacturing and Coleco Industries filed suit for copyright and trademark infringement against defendant Bandai-America. Plaintiffs are the owners of the famous arcade video games Galaxian and Pac-Man. Defendant Bandai-America is a Japanese distributor of handheld video games. Defendant has two handheld video games named Packri Monster and Galaxian.
Plaintiffs asserted a likelihood of confusion between its Galaxian mark and defendant’s identical mark. The court found Plaintiffs were entitled to summary judgment on the trademark issue for the Galaxian mark on the grounds that the mark is distinctive and not descriptive of the product.
The Pac-Man game is an electronic maze-chase arcade game. Players use a joystick to navigate the maze whereby the central character, the “gobbler” maze-chaser, consumes pink dots. The game ends when a monster catches the gobbler. Similar to the Pac-Man game, defendant’s Packri Monster is played using a joystick, whereby the player moves a character through the maze. The Packri Monster gives the illusion of the monster eating the dots in a manner resembling the monster in Pac-Man.
The court found there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether defendant’s “Packri Monster” mark infringed the “Pac-Man” mark. Additionally, the court found that the plaintiff’s products were copyrightable. However, the court denied summary judgment for Midway for the Pac-Man game, holding that defendant’s game was not substantially similar to plaintiff’s trademark, and therefore there was not a likelihood of confusion.