Atari fights to keep Dragon Ball Z

FUNimation claims deal for games based on popular anime was terminated after publisher violated license agreements.

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It's been a rough month for Atari, starting with the dismissal of five members of its board of directors, courtesy of parent company Infogrames. While the outgoing directors had been replaced within a week, a group of frustrated Atari shareholders accused Infogrames of intentionally undermining the company's stock price in preparation to buy out the remaining shareholders.

The month is ending with even more corporate drama for the company, as an Atari Securities and Exchange Commission filing last week revealed that it is currently embroiled in a dispute over its Dragon Ball Z license.

According to Atari, the company has the rights to release games based on the series thanks to a pair of agreements with US anime firm FUNimation Productions. However, the publisher received a notice from FUNimation earlier this month accusing it of breaching those agreements.

As a result, FUNimation now claims that Atari's license to make Dragon Ball Z games has been terminated. Atari doesn't agree and has been distributing the games as usual. The two companies are now in talks to reach a temporary agreement that would buy them time to resolve their issues regarding the original license.

Dragon Ball Z has been Atari's most prolific licensed property in recent years, bringing in $85 million in the company's fiscal 2005, according to its latest annual report. The remainder of Atari's current catalog is headlined by properties like Dungeons & Dragons, Backyard Sports, and Godzilla. Should Atari lose the Dragon Ball Z license, it would join Driver, Stuntman, Transformers, and a handful of Hasbro games like Monopoly as high-profile losses to the publisher's stable of properties.

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