Haunted House Tycoon Finally Gets Day in Court

USPTO Announces Oral Hearing in Long-Running Game Industry Trademark Dispute for Feb. 26

ATLANTA (Feb. 2, 2016) — The United States Patent and Trademark Office announced oral hearings in one of its longer-running oppositions, Atari Interactive’s attempt to keep independent game developer Hazy Dreams of Infinity from using the words “Haunted” and “House” in the title of its upcoming “Haunted House Tycoon” game. First filed on Dec. 13, 2011, the case has dragged on even as Atari tried to get into making gambling products, went into bankruptcy and sold off its most valuable brands.

“Atari has a horrible reputation for attacking independent game developers, including recently going after TxK developer Jeff Minter,” said Andrew Greenberg, president of Hazy Dreams of Infinity. “Trying to claim no one else can use the words ‘Haunted’ and ‘House’ is especially ridiculous, considering games have been using the term ‘Haunted House” in titles ever since Magnavox released a game by that name for the Odyssey in 1972.”

In its filings with the USPTO (Atari Interactive, Inc. v Andrew N. Greenberg, opposition number 91202952), Atari claims, “The renown of Atari’s Haunted House trademark, the near identity of the parties’ marks, the identity of their products, trade channels and prospective purchasers, and Applicant’s bad faith as demonstrated by his adoption of many of the distinctive features of Atari’s packaging, all lead to the inescapable conclusion that Applicant’s use and registration of Haunted House Tycoon for computer game software is likely to cause confusion with Atari’s use of Haunted House for the same goods.”

“Atari has made outrageous claims throughout this proceeding,” Greenberg said. “For instance, they say Haunted House Tycoon uses the ‘distinctive’ eyeballs of Atari’s 1982 game, which are nowhere in our art or game. Calling a tycoon game identical to their old adventure game is equally appalling. The Atari COO even claims his company invented the Tycoon game with Rollercoaster Tycoon, completely ignoring Sid Meiers’ work, Railroad Tycoon, and Chris Sawyer’s own Transport Tycoon, which came out three years before Rollercoaster Tycoon,” Greenberg noted.

“It does not appear that anyone from the Nolan Bushnell or Ray Kassar glory days of Atari are still leading the company. It is tragic how the current leadership has driven its brand into the ground. They would be much better served to actually try to make a good game rather than bullying independent developers,” Greenberg said.

Andrew Greenberg, executive director of the Georgia Game Developers Association (www.ggda.org) and organizer of the Southeast Interactive Entertainment and Games Expo (www.siegecon.net), has been making his living as a game developer since 1990. Best known for designing computer games and roleplaying games, Andrew co-created the “Fading Suns” roleplaying and computer games and was the original developer of White Wolf’s “Vampire: The Masquerade.” He has also worked on products with other roleplaying game companies, including “Star Trek Next Generation” and “Deep Space Nine.” His computer game credits include Dracula Unleashed, Star Trek: Starfleet Academy, Emperor of the Fading Suns, Warhammer 40K: Final Liberation, Merchant Prince II, Mall Tycoon, Dungeon Crawlers, Dungeon Lords, The Virtual World of Kaneva, Railroad Tycoon Mobile and the Global Agenda MMO. From 2000 until 2008 he also wrote an annual chapter on video game law for Mathew Bender and LexisNexis’ series on the entertainment software industry.

All the filings in the case can be found at http://ttabvue.uspto.gov/ttabvue/v?pno=91202952

Details of Atari’s efforts against Jeff Minter can be found here: http://pastebin.com/HHCZwyEd

 

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