Give Me A Break: KitKat Accused Of Blatantly Ripping Off Classic Atari Game Breakout

Anyone who watched Saturday morning TV back in the late '80s will remember the KitKat commercials that flooded the airwaves. The commercial that most sticks out from that period is the one with the dude balancing all the things on his head as the "Give Me A Break" song plays. KitKat might be crispy, creamy and meant for sharing but Nestle, the maker of KitKat, has landed in hot water with Atari for using the look, feel, and name of a classic Atari game without permission.

Atari has filed a suit that accuses Nestle of knowingly exploiting the look and feel of the 1970s game Breakout. This was one of the most frustrating games for many gamers of the era, involving controls with spinning knobs on top that you used to move a bar on the bottom of the screen and bounce the ball back up to the top where it hit colored bars to break them. The goal was to clear the screen of all colored bars. In the Nestle commercial, Atari alleges that all the candy maker did was replace the colored bars of Breakout with KitKat candy. 

Nestle has vowed to defend itself against the allegations, but that will be difficult given that Nestle even cribbed the game's name, calling the commercial "Kit Kat: Breakout." It would appear that Atari had all videos of the commercial itself pulled, as it couldn't be found at time of writing. Atari says Nestle's infringement, "is so plain and blatant that Nestle cannot claim to be an 'innocent' infringer." 

Atari filed the suit against Nestle in a San Francisco court on Thursday and alleges that Nestle aimed to exploit "the special place [Breakout] holds among nostalgic Baby Boomers, Generation X, and even today's Millennial and post-Millennial 'gamers'." It seems that it took Atari a while to learn about the ad and take legal action. Nestle has stated that the ad in question was "...a UK TV advert that ran in 2016. The ad no longer runs and we have no current plans to re-run it."

Those who never had the privilege to be frustrated by Breakout might not be familiar with the game. It was the successor to one of the first commercial video games, Pong, and was created by Steve Wozniak, Steve Bristow, and Nolan Bushnell. The initial release for the game was in April of 1976 by Atari and was offered in both upright and cocktail version in arcades of the day.

Tags:  Legal, suit, Atari