Atari has hit Nestle with a lawsuit accusing the Swiss food giant of infringing on its intellectual property in a recent advert for KitKat chocolate bars. The complaint, filed on Thursday (17 August), alleges that Nestle knowingly exploited the name and concept behind Atari's 1976 arcade classic, Breakout.
Chief among Atari's complaints is a video commercial titled "KitKat: Breakout" used to advertise Nestle's KitKat Bites range. The ad shows four people sat on a sofa (later shown to be in the middle of London's King's Cross station) playing a game that mirrors Breakout's paddle-and-ball design, only with the blocks transformed into miniature KitKat bars.
Atari claims that the advert and other references to Breakout on social media are a clear attempt at exploiting the "special place [Breakout] holds among nostalgic Baby Boomers, Generation X, and even today's Millennial and post-Millennial 'gamers.'"
Pitched as the successor to Pong, Breakout was designed by games industry legends Nolan Bushnell, Steve Bristow and Apple co-founder Steve 'The Woz' Wozniak. The latter is credited as the game's creator, alongside late Apple CEO Steve Jobs.
Breakout first hit arcades in 1976 and has since made its way to everything from iPod to PlayStation. It has even starred as one of Google's many cheeky Easter Eggs.
"Nestle simply took the classic 'Breakout' screen, replaced its bricks with KitKat bars, and invited customers to 'breakout' and buy more candy bars," Atari said. "The infringing conduct in this case is so plain and blatant that Nestle cannot claim to be an 'innocent' infringer. Nestle knew exactly what it was doing."
The lawsuit accuses Nestle of copyright and trademark infringement and unfair competition. According to Reuters, Atari is seeking three times Nestle's profit from the alleged infringement, as well as triple and punitive damages.
You can watch the potentially incriminating video below.