Magnavox to sue Atari over console patents

(c) ProhibitOnions, Wikimedia Commons

It’s not just no-longer-relevant smartphone manufacturers like Nokia and RIM going tit-for-tat over rectangles any more! Magnavox, creator of the 1972-released Magnavox Odyssey have announced that, despite their console being discontinued for over thirty years, they are launching a legal battle against rival Atari over its Pong console.

Magnavox CEO Edwin Pridham is alleging that Nolan Bushnell (yes, him again from Tuesday’s article), founder of Atari, directly copied key portions of Magnavox’ console and business strategy in the creation and marketing of Pong. “I’m seeking a lot of restitution dollars,” he said in an interview. “In the 1970s I think their business practices cost us at least $250, and I am reliably informed that adjusting for inflation means that we’re able to sue them for their entire net worth as a company today. Which I am told is, sadly, about $250. But dammit if we’re not going to expend millions on legal expenses to get that money, Best Buy are having a special on the 360 and I want in!”

The motivation behind the decision, aside discount Xboxes, is seen primarily as being a case of “everyone else is doing it, why not me”. A popular tactic against an opponent offering similar and competitively priced product is to claim that they ripped you off, spend millions in legal fees, then obtain an injunction which lasts for two weeks before being thrown out by a higher court. True to this, Magnavox is seeking an injunction against Atari which will see distribution of the latter’sPong arcade cabinet halted for six months while they can pursue further actions.

Since both consoles haven’t been distributed since the 1970s and 1980s, neither party is actually particularly worried about winning or losing, only about cornering the tiny section of the market who haven’t realised that a Casio calculator provides more processing power than a 1970s arcade machine.

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