Zombie company Atari wants exclusive right to make haunted house games

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The current Atari is a completely different group from the awesome Atari back in the day. These current day weasels just bought the name to use. That’s an important distinction I think you left out in this article because the people who made up Atari back in the day don’t deserve to be associated with this story.


Ha, Atari

I loved Atari, you were great!

But you are a memory, you just don’t realize you are dead.

Crawl back in your coffin and close the lid forever, your desiccated corpse is possessed by an evil spirit now and is grossing people out.

Get out of my house, vile spirit, The passing of time compels you!, The passing of time compels you!


Could we say that Atari is haunting us? Like a … spectre maybe?

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I hope Minter unlleashed the llamas on them.


I’m sure Greenberg is a nice guy and all that, but after a quick look at the TTAB record, I have a few observations:

1 - If Greenberg was so convinced that Atari Interactive was no longer using the HAUNTED HOUSE mark, why didn’t he file a counterclaim for cancellation of US Reg. No. 4037222 on the basis of non-use/abandonment?

2 - Claiming a Fair Use defense? While you yourself are seeking registration of a mark for use in commerce? That’s not going to work out too well.

3 - Priority of Use refers to which party in the proceeding used the mark first in commerce, not whether any third parties used the mark earlier than the Opposer. Mistakes like this make one look foolish to the Board.

Perhaps hire a trademark attorney next time?


Haunted House Game Jam in 5… 4… 3…

Thank goodness the internet found somebody to defend the poor trolls!

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Ha ha, no love for Atari here – I specifically mentioned how Greenberg could have made his defense stronger (by filing a cancellation counterclaim). I have some real doubts about the legitimacy of Atari’s continuous use in commerce, as required by the Lanham Act.

That being said, it’s not enough to just call them trolls; one must devote sufficient legal resources to beating them into submission. That’s why I support the EFF (even when I occasionally disagree with their positions), and patent-side efforts like those by Newegg and ACE (Adam Carolla) to beat down the trolls.


Hell, it’s not even the same group as ten years ago. The name and property have been getting passed around since the mid '80s, with Infogrames getting the name in the early 2000s, using it to rename one of their subsidiaries and actually making games under it. But that was several changes of ownership ago. At this point it’s the ghost of a zombie, and even the ghost keeps dying and passing on the name to other ghosts.
The weird thing is I can think of at least one other former game company whose name has been sold to someone who has turned it into a ten-person company that licenses out the name for what are presumably mostly mobile games. In this case, they don’t have much of value. The original games were so crude they don’t translate into anything with commercial appeal now, and even the Infogrames iteration was long enough ago that there’s no name recognition for Millennials.

That a trademark was granted here shows just how the trademark office falls down issuing them to entities that have no right to them. There were several games with the name before Atari and uncountable numbers afterwards. Atari did release (or rather, ImagineEngine released, under license from Atari) a new “Haunted House” game in 2010 using the original (badly outdated) game mechanics, but still.


If I was a more ambitious (and evil) person, the first two things on my list would “start a successful Kickstarter and then purposefully run it into the ground”, followed by “use the money to buy obscure patents and litigate like it’s going out of style.”


For one, they did release a “Haunted House” game a year or two ago. So it’s not as if it’s been sitting unused by them, but, Haunted House is a generic term, and should not be able to be trademarked or copyrighted, or anything. Plain and simple.

Second, I worked on a game published by Atari in the very recent past. They were sketchy the whole way, often late with our payments, demanding impossible deadlines, and in fact, halted payment without notice, and we were made to work a month (many days with overtime) while being promised pay and not receiving it, after which point we were laid off without getting the money.

I don’t trust Atari as far as I can throw them, and overall, they’re just plain old awful these days.


No big fan of DisneyCorp here, but I can’t help but fantasize that they’d just need to announce that they’re thinking of one day creating a videogame based on their haunted house. We might then only see Atari as one of the hitchikers that ride home with us after the show.

There was Haunted House that Atari “published” in 2010, which was based on the original game mechanics, such as they were. Then Haunted House: Cryptic Graves in 2014, which has Atari’s name on it as publisher but seems completely unrelated to anything. Both of which were rather cheap, nasty, buggy games that sold appropriately. It would make sense if Atari is trying to get developers to simply pay them just to use “haunted house” in their game title, as they’ve got nothing else, and there are a lot of games that use those words. As for Atari’s claims of (their own supposed) “widespread and extensive use” - ha ha ha ha ha!

Sorry to hear that. Was this in the last couple of years? I understood they weren’t still acting as a real publisher (or rather, completely failing to act as a real publisher), but had taken up the same shitty, rent-seeking business model that’s sadly become increasingly popular with older publishers with not a lot of resources but a bunch of IPs. That is, they “generously” allow some third party developer to completely self-finance a game using their IP and then take a cut of the gross. It’s pure profit with no costs for them, but as a developer I don’t understand why anyone would take them up on it, as it doesn’t seem to have that much value compared to the cost.

Who is that?

Interplay, specifically. Last I read they had ten employees and their business model consisted of licensing out the few remaining IPs they had managed to hold onto through various sales and bankruptcies. The most recent being “Descent,” that they licensed out to a crowdsourced game. Which is causing them some problems as, oops, they’ve apparently failed to pay the developers for their cut of continued sales of the original game.
I’ve also read some things that suggested some other companies were headed in that direction.

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Ok, except that Disney’s spooky locale is known as the HAUNTED MANSION. For which it already owns a US trademark registration:


“Haunted House is a generic term, and should not be able to be trademarked…”

I think that most people misunderstand the concept of generic marks. If Atari had attempted to register the mark VIDEO GAME for a video game, that would be generic. At worst, the mark HAUNTED HOUSE for a video game about a haunted house would be considered merely descriptive, and thus only eligible for registration upon a showing of secondary meaning.

Sure. Mansion. But given their overreach in protecting their sacred mouse, I figure a haunted penthouse, garage, henhouse,attic, basement, or any other dwelling or part of a dwelling might well be considered an infringement. You just don’t mess with The Mouse…

Cory would be in his bunk, that would be certain.