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Atari Accuses Tempest 2000 Dev Of Copying Tempest 2000

| 18 Mar 2015 22:44

Atari has accused Jeff Minter, the indie dev behind TxK, of misusing copyrighted materials he developed while working on Tempest 2000.

The game TxK is currently part of a heated legal debate between Atari and indie developer Jeff Minter. First announced two years ago, TxK was designed as an modernized version of Atari's Tempest 2000 - itself an update of 1989's Tempest. After developing TxK single-handedly and releasing it for Vita, Minter received positive reviews and moved on to other things. But now Minter is receiving requests from Atari's legal department to remove TxK from the store.

Oh, and an additional wrinkle? Minter was a developer for Tempest 2000 - as in, he literally wrote the code for both games. Atari is suggesting that Minter used copyrighted material - including Tempest's design documents and computer code - to develop TxK. Meanwhile, Minter has accused Atari of unduly attempting to claim his TxK trademark and copyrights prior to PC, PS4, Android, and VR port launches.

"TxK is a blatant copy of the Tempest games," reads a 2014 letter from Atari, posted online by Minter. "Contrary to your assertion, there is nothing remotely 'original' in TxK and in no meaningful sense can TxK be described as your clients' "own independent creation". TxK is quite plainly a remake or updated version of the Tempest games."

"Your clients are ... explicitly referring to our clients Tempest Games as your client's own work (where in reality your clients contributed to the development of Tempest 2000 as contractors)," a later paragraph reads. "Further, your client's development work on Tempest 2000 was merely an updating of the original Tempest game to which your clients made no contribution."

The document also suggests Minter still has Tempest code and design documents from Atari in his possession, which he used to develop TxK. It suggests that TxK's visual style, music, and gameplay were indistinguishable from Tempest 2000, and that Minter was profiting from Atari's brand.

Now Minter is speaking out against Atari, stating that it has downplayed his contributions to Tempest 2000. "I think the weirdest aspect of the legal letter thing is how they desperately try to imply I had nothing much to do with my own creation," Minter wrote on Twitter. He followed up by saying Atari is "trying to insist that I remove from sale Vita TxK (even though it's plainly at the end of its run now and only brings in a trickle these days) and sign papers basically saying I can never make a Tempest style game ever again. So no chance of releasing the ports."

"Atari values and protects its intellectual property and expects others to respect its copyrights and trademarks," Atari wrote in a statement to Ars Technica. "When Llamasoft launched TxK in early 2014, Atari was surprised and dismayed by the very close similarities between TxK and the Tempest franchise. Atari was not alone in noticing the incredible likeness between the titles. Several major gaming outlets also remarked at the similarity of features and overall appearance of TxK to Tempest; one stated of TxK, 'This is essentially Tempest.'"

This isn't a new problem for Minter, who received that first letter in April 2014. "It's achingly sad because I loved Atari," Minter wrote on Twitter. "Getting to work there, and creating one of their last great games, was such a joy for me ... But I could never have imagined one day being savaged by its undead corpse, my own seminal work turned against me. I am beyond disgusted."

At the moment Atari is not pursuing a lawsuit against Minter, although it is demanding Minter pay damages for "the infringement of copyright, passing off, trade dress infringement and breach of duties of confidence".

In the meantime, check out these screenshots from both games and decide for yourselves how similar they are.

Source: Ars Technica

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