Atari accuses custom t-shirt maker Zazzle of counterfeiting


Atari accuses custom t-shirt maker Zazzle of counterfeiting

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Video game maker Atari Interactive has accused online custom t-shirt maker Zazzle of copyright and trademark infringement in a lawsuit filed earlier this week.

Atari filed its complaint at the US District Court for the Northern District of California, San Francisco Division, on Wednesday, June 27.

The suit said Atari became “the pioneer in the video game industry in the 1970s”, and is now known to “consumers and the public at large by its inherently distinctive trade name” as well as its A-shaped logo.

Atari said more than 200 “well-known games” are sold under the brand, including “Space Invaders”, “Ms. Pac Man” and “Pong”.

As noted in the suit, Zazzle, which launched in 2005, describes itself as an online marketplace for custom products. However, “what Zazzle does not mention on its website is that it is also an online marketplace powered by a substantial quantity of counterfeit goods”, Atari claimed.

Through Zazzle’s website, customers can upload designs that Zazzle then displays on products including clothing, phone cases, and home decoration. Customers can then purchase the product, which is made and shipped by Zazzle.

Atari said that, through this process, Zazzle is advertising, creating, and selling “massive quantities of counterfeit Atari products”.

A lot of the counterfeit products incorporate “exact replicas” of the ‘Atari’ trademarks, the complaint claimed.

Zazzle is also making “substantial sales and profits” from products incorporating copyrights owned by Atari, according to the suit. The infringing images are reportedly scenes from Atari’s games, including “Pong”, “Adventure”, and “Breakout”.

Atari claimed that this is the latest example of “Zazzle’s pattern and practice of infringing upon the IP rights of well-known brands”, which is causing Atari harm by “cheapening and diluting” its brand.

The suit said that Atari has “never consented” to Zazzle’s use of its trademarks and, in the absence of injunctive relief, consumers will continue to be mistaken or deceived as to the true source of Zazzle’s goods.

The complaint asked for an injunction to force Zazzle to stop the infringing activities, and for an award of reasonable attorneys’ fees.

Atari also asked the court to award statutory damages of $2 million per registered trademark infringed and $150,000 per copyright infringement, as well as triple profits.

This is not the first time a custom t-shirt maker has come under fire from a brand—in January, British brand merchandiser Global Merchandising Services (GMS) accused SunFrog of trademark infringement.

The custom T-shirt maker reportedly sold products featuring designs which are identical or similar to the IP of artists affiliated with GMS, such as Mötley Crüe, Alice Cooper, and Motörhead.

Zazzle, custom products, copyright infringement, trademark infringement, video games, online marketplace, triple damages, profits, counterfeit, e-commerce

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