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- Universal City Studios, Inc. v. Nintendo Co., Ltd. was a case heard by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York by Judge Robert W. Sweet. In their complaint, Universal Studios alleged that Nintendo's video game Donkey Kong was a trademark infringement of King Kong, the plot and characters of.
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15 Feb Donkey Kong wasn't, directly, named after the cinema sensation King Kong, although the character was certainly inspired by the movie monkey. While no canonical explanation behind the name “Donkey Kong” is widely agreed upon, one story has the word “Kong” coming from the Japanese word for “ape,”.:9 Mar When Universal Studios decided they wanted to get in on this hot new video game craze, the President of the company Sid Sheinberg was shocked when he discovered Donkey Kong. To him, this was nothing more than a blatant copy of King Kong, a film and character they claimed they owned the rights to. Right; there's a relation In the literal sense of the word "Kong". As for the fictional characters themselves, no. But that's not saying King Kong couldn't be a "kong" if he were somehow dropped off on DK Isle, since the DKC/DK64 kongs don't all share the same bloodline anyway. A plethora of DKC-related. 13 Mar Back in the 80s, Universal Studios sued Nintendo claiming that Donkey Kong was a stolen copy of King Kong!.
25 Nov Sid Sheinberg took notice of Donkey Kong's success in the arcade and home video game console market. He tested a round of Donkey Kong himself. After testing the game, he was convinced that Donkey Kong was a rip off of King Kong. Universal demanded Nintendo to pay them royalties for its use of.:
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This lead to other successful releases that turned Nintendo into a videogame powerhouse that is still successful to this day. The characters that Donkey Kong launched would become icons in their own right, especially Donkey Kong and Mario. Their rivalry would be the stuff of legend, revisited time and time again in other projects that were just as fun as the arcade game that inspired it.
I give MCA Universal credit. But the connection to the original King Kong film doesn't end there. Due to the rising popularity of the videogame, MCA Universal, a huge entertainment conglomerate that held the Universal Studios copyright of the movie King Kong, sued Nintendo in Nintendo's defense was that by the time the King Kong film was released in theaters the characters and plot were already in the public domain, and thus Universal Studios only owned the film rights, not the rights to the characters and concept.
Nintendo met with MCA over the lawsuit, after a telex was sent to NCL that ordered Hiroshi Yamauchi company President at the time to turn over all of Nintendo's profits from Donkey Kong and destroy any unsold games within 48 hours. It was found that MCA had never registered King Kong as a trademark, and past lawsuits, including one that Universal themselves had won, concluded that King Kong was in the public domain and could not be trademarked.
Nintendo was awarded 1. Like Kong at the top of the Empire State Building, the lawsuit was quickly shot down into history. This lawsuit would forever link the film and video game industry. Nintendo's victory was a startling victory for the game industry, while Universal's defeat was deemed laughable and humiliating for the company. This demonstrates that King Kong was so popular that even using its premise in the form of parody caused waves.
As for the character of Donkey Kong, he would later be reinvented from a villain to a hero in a new Donkey Kong series released in called Donkey Kong Country. The games, Super Nintendo exclusive, were all platformers similar to Mario's own efforts that pioneered the use of pre-rendered sprites to create a visual presentation that was stunning and unforgettable. Kong is a common character in Mario's games, whether as an assistant or a playable combatant. In other Nintendo games such as Super Smash Bros.
Unfortunately, the series was very mediocre and was thus quickly forgotten. Going back to King Kong, despite the embarrassing lawsuit Universal was still behind the franchise, re-releasing the films for many years and even creating a theme park attraction based on the original film. In , they released a remake of King Kong directed by Peter Jackson just one of the many directors that were inspired by the stop-motion-animated ape.
The film received mixed reviews but was still a success. In an ironic twist, King Kong would be the star of his own videogame based on the remake and released for the Xbox, Xbox , Nintendo Gamecube, and Playstation 2. In the game players took on the role of both Jack Driscoll and Kong as they survived the perils of Skull Island, recreating the film's best scenes. It was a surprisingly solid effort by Ubisoft and looked good as well.
Ironically, one of the most menacing apes in cinema history managed to create one of the goofiest primate video game characters of all time. Donkey Kong is proof that an iconic film character can inspire derivatives that become just as successful as the original.
After all, imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. Additional information provided by the book Game Over: Press Start to Continue by David Sheff. Create account Forgot login? News Editorials Events Features Staff. Reviews Previews Games Hardware. Miyamoto claimed that he had in fact called his ape character King Kong at first, as that was a generic term in Japan for any large ape.
Throughout this litigation, Universal knew, as a result of the RKO litigation, that it had no rights to any visual image of King Kong from the classic movie or its remake. Nonetheless, Universal, when it seemed beneficial, made sweeping assertions of rights, attempting to extract license agreements from companies incapable of or unwilling to confront Universal's "profit center.
In his opinion, Donkey Kong was "comical" and the ape character "farcical, childlike and nonsexual. Donkey Kong ' s particular expression of a gorilla villain and a carpenter hero with or without a fire hat who must dodge various obstacles whether bombs or fireballs while climbing up ladders whether complete or broken and picking up prizes umbrellas or purses to rescue a fair-haired whether knotted or pigtailed hostage from the gorilla is protractible against Universal and its licensees.
Nintendo was given the option to either take Universal's licensing profits for their game or accept statutory damages. Nintendo and Universal argued the appeals case on May 23, As evidence of consumer confusion, Universal presented the results of a telephone survey of managers and owners of arcades, bowling alleys, and pizza restaurants who owned or leased Donkey Kong machines.
To the question "To the best of your knowledge, was the Donkey Kong game made with the approval or under the authority of the people who produce the King Kong movies? However, to the question "As far as you know, who makes Donkey Kong? They also provided six examples from print media of more cases of confusion between Donkey Kong and King Kong. The October issue of Videogaming Illustrated , for example, was shown to read "our Donkey Kong presentation continues as we look at other gorillas who have had a fondness for women.
Prominent among them is King Kong, who has much in common with the video villain. In its decision on October 4, , the court upheld the previous verdict. They declared that "The two properties have nothing in common but a gorilla, a captive woman, a male rescuer, and a building scenario.
Finally, the survey asked "an obvious leading question in that it suggested its own answer. The statements cited by Universal recognize that the Donkey Kong theme loosely evokes the King Kong films.
However, none of the statements remotely suggests that the authors were under the impression that Donkey Kong was connected with the company holding the King Kong trademark. The court agreed that some consumers were confused about the two marks. Universal paid Coleco by buying stock in the company. Universal and Nintendo both appealed the counterclaims suit.
The case was argued on June 16, First, Universal knew that it did not have trademark rights to King Kong, yet it proceeded to broadly assert such rights anyway. This amounted to a wanton and reckless disregard of Nintendo's rights. Second, Universal did not stop after it asserted its rights to Nintendo.
It embarked on a deliberate, systematic campaign to coerce all of Nintendo's third party licensees to either stop marketing Donkey Kong products or pay Universal royalties.
It is rumored that a copy of the game was eventually sent to John Kirby who was humored and flattered. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Decided Citation s F. Sweet Universal City Studios, Inc. Archived from the original on March 12, Video games Consoles Mobile games. Nintendo of America Inc. Lewis Galoob Toys, Inc. Nintendo of America, Inc. The Animated Series Kong: King of the Apes Ikari no Megaton Punch King Kong 2: The 8th Wonder of the World Reign of Kong List of video games.
Dixie Kong's Double Trouble! Donkey Kong Mario vs. March of the Minis Mario vs. Mario and Donkey Kong:
When Lincoln pressed to find out when it would be provided, Universal responded with more demands for royalties. Nintendo had this in the bag. Almost all of them — including Atari — gave in and paid Universal royalties. In fact, Ralston Purina tried to settle with Universal, but Sheinberg threw them out of his office. To represent Nintendo, Lincoln brought in John Kirby who had previously won litigation battles for big companies like PepsiCo.
With all of their interviews and an ace up their sleeve, Nintendo went into the court room with a lot of confidence. But the ace up their sleeve, and what won them the case, was that Nintendo proved Universal did not own the exclusive rights to King Kong. Howard Lincoln represents a different era for Nintendo and one many remember. Reggie gets a lot of praise but Howard to me will always be the face for NOA.
This was a good read btw. I will have to check that out, thanks. I guess in some ways, Nintendo is still fighting that same old console war, but not with just one Sega, but two.
I would like to hear Howards thoughts on Nintendo from Gamecube — Switch and what he would have done differently if he were with the company during those years. In fact, there's another big ape that shares the limelight , a video game hero and villain that was enough of a threat that Nintendo got sued over it. The year is , and DonkeyKong is one of the biggest games in the world. At the same time, Universal Studios's company president Sid Sheinberg is just getting into this whole "video games" thing.
The remake of the classic film had been released only a few years before, and Sid wants to get a licensed King Kong game into the arcades. Which is when he discovers the existence of the character Donkey Kong. In Sid's eyes, Nintendo was clearly copying from the studio's hit film property; the giant ape, the captured maiden, the building, it was all there. Ironically, Donkey Kong had actually arisen out of a failed attempt at making a Popeye game.
When the rights had fallen through, Nintendo used the material they'd developed and simply replaced the characters of Popeye with their own designs.
Universal immediately launched legal action. They sent Nintendo, and their collaborator Coleco cease and desist letters, claiming copyright infringement. Universal demanded that both companies cease all distribution of the game and pay them the full profits they'd made from the title. Universal began to push hard, demanding royalties and issuing threats to the company.
They began to pressure Nintendo's partners and distributers, issuing legal threats if the companies didn't pay Universal royalties.
Most caved, but Nintendo's attorney Howard Lincoln refused to settle. Lincoln knew that Universal studios didn't have a leg to stand on. When he pressed Universal on whether they really owned the rights to the giant ape, asking for some proof of legal ownership, the company blustered, stalled and issued further threats.
Lincoln teamed up with powerhouse lawyer John Kirby, who'd won big cases for companies like Pepsi, and calmly met Universal head-on in the court room, armed with the knowledge that would bring their adversary down.
The fact is, no one's ever been entirely sure who owned the rights to King Kong. The original director, Merian C. Cooper, had long assumed he was the owner, but when the time came to challenge studios like Toho and Pioneer that were making knock-off Kong properties, Cooper discovered he had no proof.
Things got even more convoluted as time went on. The studio that had produced the original film, RKO Pictures, assumed they were the owners of the license, but when Dino De Laurentiis purchased the remake rights in the 70s, Universal Studios jumped in, claiming they already owned the remake rights.
In the ensuing court case, Universal argued that RKO had let the copyright expire, which meant the character was now public domain.
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