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TxK PC port blocked by Atari’s “abject bollocks” legal claims

Jeff Minter (he of Llamasoft fame) has today been revealing troubling details of Atari’s legal attempts to block his latest title, TxK, from sale. TxK is currently only out on the Playstation Vita, but a PC version was planned.

Past-tense, because Atari (or rather the husk that is modern day Atari) are apparently doing their best to stop Minter doing much of anything with TxK. Their claim is that it’s too much like Tempest 2000 and therefore constitutes an intellectual property issue.

Minter has outlined and rebuffed their suggestions in a rather entertaining pastebin article (it’s on his site too, but that’s getting hammered,) dismissing them as “abject bollocks.”

According to Minter, Atari are under the impression that in order to create TxK he must have stolen source code from Tempest 2000. That’s a pretty interesting suggestion because, as Minter points out, the person who wrote the source code for Tempest 2000 was Jeff Minter. “So I stole my own work out of my own brain I guess,” he writes.

He also rejects (among other claims) the suggestion that TxK in any way sought to cash-in on Atari’s reputation: “I never mentioned Atari at all as the last thing I really wanted was for Llamasoft to be associated with the undead Atari responsible for turning Star Raiders into a fucking slot machine.”

Minter confirms that this affair has been going on behind the scenes for some time, and that Llamasoft has consulted with a lawyer of their own. However, this case is, in Minter’s words, “set up legally so as to be expensive for anyone to contest,” which presents obvious problems to an indie developer. His legal bills for sending some letters to Atari are already “a couple of grand.”

Interestingly, the final section of Minter’s piece details Atari’s release of a PlayStation Tempest 2000 port called Tempest X. Minter has spoken to the chap who did this port, and learned that “Tempest X was made exactly enough different that it would be legally considered a different game, cutting me out of any royalties.”

Tempest X was derived from Minter’s original Tempest 2000 source code, used the same soundtrack (something Atari is falsely accusing TxK of doing) and even included the original Tempest 2000 as a hidden unlockable game.

Atari has sent a dry statement of their own to Gamasutra, which reads as follows.

“Atari values and protects its intellectual property and expects others to respect its copyrights and trademarks. 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.” There is no lawsuit. Atari has been in continuous contact with the developer since the game launched in hopes that the matter would be resolved.”

Minter has already responded to that response on twitter. He’s not impressed.

He’s also put up a pdf copy of one of Atari’s threatening legal letters, which you can read here. When reading it, remember that Jeff Minter is actually the creator of Tempest 2000.



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