Pac-Man Owners Caught in Retro Game IP Maze

Bandai Namco Entertainment America Inc. v. AtGames Holdings Ltd. et. al.
United States District Court for the Northern District of California
Case No. 5:19-cv-05898
Filed September 20, 2019

Bandai Namco, the company that owns the Pac-Man video game franchise, is suing retro game maker AtGames over its iterations of Pac-Man and Ms. Pac-Man. AtGames, which revamps old classic video games and consoles, was provided a license by Bandai Namco to create a version of Pac-Man.  Bandai Namco is asserting claims of copyright and trademark infringement against AtGames.

According to Bandai Namco’s suit, AtGames developed a version of Pac-Man that was never accepted by Bandai Namco and which “substantially deviated” from what it had shown Bandai Namco as part of license negotiations. An initial version of AtGames’ Pac-Man concept received positive reviews from Bandai Namco, but a later version developed received negative reviews from Bandai and was not approved.  The later-developed version of Pac-Man may have been developed without authorization from Bandai Namco.

Bandai Namco alleges that AtGames’ version of Pac-Man, which prominently features Bandai Namco’s company name, brands, and other licensed intellectual property, harms Bandai Namco’s image. Bandai Namco further alleges AtGames’ version of Pac-Man will create negative responses from consumers and will cause irreparable harm to Bandai’s reputation and goodwill.

Bandai has asked for an injuction barring AtGames from making or selling the Ms. Pac-Man game, and also damages and profits from the allegedly infringing Pac-Man game.  Bandai’s request for an injunction appears to be related to AtGames’ alleged representation to retailers such as Walmart and Gamestop that it has a license for Pac-Man.

We will continue to update this case as new information comes to light.