Nestlé, a maker of confectionaries and other foodstuffs around the world, has been accused of copying the classic Atari game Breakout in a 2016 advertisement as reported by the BBC.

Breakout is a video game where players bounce a ball off of a movable platform in order to break bricks at the top of the screen. Originally released by Atari in 1976, the game was built by Steve Wozniak (with assistance from Steve Jobs) based on a concept by Nolan Bushnell and Steve Bristow. It was famously tied to an apocryphal story where Steve Wozniak was paid $350 for his work compared to the sum of $5,000 paid out to Steve Jobs, based on the number of circuits he was able to eliminate from the arcade board. That build of the game wasn’t used, due to being too difficult to reproduce, and the amount that Jobs was paid tends to vary on who’s telling the story, but it has become an integral part of gaming’s history. The game’s design was influenced by Pong, another Atari video game featuring similar paddle mechanics. It was later followed by Super Breakout and cloned in countless different ways on many different platforms including PC, consoles, and mobile phones.

A Reuters article has further details: the legal complaint was filed in a San Francisco court on Thursday. Atari alleges that Nestlé ran a commercial in 2016 which showed friends playing a game that used imagery similar to the gameplay of Breakout. The commercial (titled “Kit Kat: Breakout”) ran in the United Kingdom in 2016, and Nestlé’s spokesman stated that they have no plans to run it any longer. The advertisement reportedly showed actors engaging in similar gameplay but with the bricks swapped out for chocolate Kit Kat wafer bars.

Atari is seeking three times the profits made from the Kit Kat advert along with triple and punitive damages for alleged violation of Atari’s trademarks and copyrights on Breakout. Nestlé denies the allegations and has stated that they will defend themselves in court.

What do you think of Atari alleging that Nestlé has infringed on their intellectual property for a Kit Kat commercial? Do you think the case has legal merit? Let us know in the comments below!

Robert N. Adams

Senior Writer

I've had a controller in my hand since I was 4 and I haven't stopped gaming since. CCGs, Tabletop Games, Pen & Paper RPGs - I've tried a whole bunch of stuff over the years and I'm always looking to try more!