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Atari suing over counterfeit consoles

Publisher accuses distributor Tommo of selling pirated copies of its Atari 2600 plug-and-play Flashback 2 console, demands $30 million in damages.


The game industry's battle against piracy isn't limited to shady trader's markets and bedroom operations working through Craigslist and eBay. The latest example of that comes from a lawsuit Atari filed last month against distributor Tommo, accusing the wholesaler of importing bootleg versions of its Flashback 2 plug-and-play console to sell to unsuspecting consumers in the US (as spotted by Kidscreen).

The authentic Flashback 2 actually looks like a knock-off 2600.
The authentic Flashback 2 actually looks like a knock-off 2600.

In the suit, the publisher alleges that Tommo engaged in piracy and counterfeiting, or more specifically, "systematic, unauthorized use, importation, copying, distribution, and sale of copies of Atari's software and game consoles in interstate commerce." It goes on to state that Tommo was distributing "wholesale quantities" of ersatz Flashback 2 systems and was actually involved in the manufacturing of them as well.

Originally released in 2005, the Atari Flashback 2 was a plug-and-play console designed to look like a smaller version of the Atari 2600, right down to the fake wood grain paneling. It also featured 40 built-in games, 20 of which were pulled from the Atari 2600 library, with the remaining offerings all previously unreleased titles.

Atari's lawsuit notes that the company discontinued the Flashback 2 system in October of 2006, but large quantities of the console continued to be available. The publisher said its own investigations discovered many of the systems to be pirated, and "a substantial quantity" of those came from Tommo.

Atari is seeking no less than $30 million in damages from Tommo, as well as attorney's fees and all profits derived from the sale of the counterfeit systems. As of press time, Tommo had not responded to GameSpot's request for comment.

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