Universal vs. Nintendo Case – Gaming Historian

Universal vs. Nintendo Case – Gaming Historian


welcome to the gaming historian I thought I’d take a break from grading all these papers and let you know an interesting piece of video game history now back in 1982 Donkey Kong was on top of the video game world Nintendo had firmly put their foot in the North American video game market with this addictive arcade game you can see Saturday morning cartoons breakfast cereals even a board game was all based on Donkey Kong now despite all this success Nintendo was still a pretty small company and they found themselves up against Universal City Studios about a trademark violation on King Kong the universal vs. Nintendo Court case was a major turning point for Nintendo as well as an inspiration for other small companies around the world Nintendo took on a giant and won if Nintendo had lost this guy might not even exist today this is the story of Universal City Studios vs. Nintendo 1981 arcades are a big business and Nintendo has just released Donkey Kong the brainchild of Shigeru Miyamoto during this time tiger electronics the creators of those handheld games you usually find at Walmart took notice of Donkey Kong and how great of a game it was inspired they developed a game based on King Kong as a handheld as is standard in creating a product Tiger Electronics contacted Universal about making licensed King Kong games as handhelds the only other active license at the time was with a company that made King Kong costumes Universal did a trademark report on King Kong and found little this was all standard procedure and nothing seemed out of the ordinary Universal granted Tiger electronics the license in September of 1981 completely unaware of Donkey Kong the following year Universal performed another routine trademark report this time Donkey Kong came up because Nintendo and calico we’re trying to reach an agreement for a cartridge license of the game the trademark report still saw nothing suspicious and dismissed Donkey Kong Sid Sheinberg however president of Universal Studios had other plans Shyne Berg and his lawyer Robert hadal tested a Donkey Kong machine and thought it infringed on King Kong Universal wanted in on the video game industry Warner had recently purchased Atari and Sega so why not Universal they were already big in the music and movie industry to get in Universal would use this copyright case against Coleco Sheinberg invited Arnold Greenberg president of Coleco to California to meet Greenberg assumed the meeting was about a potential venture with the two companies but instead Sheinberg confronted Greenberg about Donkey Kong Sheinberg stated we are going to sue you if you don’t give us some kind of royalty on Donkey Kong this was bad news for Coleco as their console was going to be shipped with Donkey Kong prepackaged Universal agreed not to sue Coleco if they pay royalties on every cartridge sold and promised future ventures with Universal Coleco agreed after the behind-the-scenes deal was finished shine Berg’s next move was to go after the remaining companies Universal contacted Nintendo and several companies that licensed Donkey Kong including Milton Bradley for their Donkey Kong board game and ralston purina for their Donkey Kong series Nintendo met with universal and Coleco on May 6 to discuss the trademark issue representing Nintendo was Minoru Arakawa head of operations for Nintendo of America and Howard Lincoln Nintendo’s legal counsel robert haddle the lawyer for universal demanded Nintendo pay royalties on Donkey Kong Lincoln responded firmly with we are not going to buy the Brooklyn Bridge Lincoln claimed that Nintendo ran its own trademark search and had found many unlicensed uses of King Kong hadal replied that he had a chain of title and would send it immediately to nintendo this chain of title would prove universals claim to king kong hat ‘l never sent the chain of title nintendo had no idea about the agreement made between Coleco and universal but lincoln knew something wasn’t right when Coleco urged nintendo to give in to the demands of universal at the meeting our Cowell was shocked that Lincoln wanted to fight against Universal now remember Nintendo is still a relatively small company at this point and they’re not really used to dealing with legal issues especially against a company such as Universal City Studios on May 21st Nintendo met with Universal one last time Shyne Berg assumed they wanted to negotiate but they were sorely mistaken after a small lunch and some small talk about Universal investing in Nintendo Lincoln broke the bad news to Universal after further investigation Nintendo had decided to not accept universals claim to King Kong and that Nintendo would not pay royalties Sheinberg was furious and famously shouted you’d better start saving money to pay your attorneys fees I view litigation as a profit Center On June 29 1982 Universal filed suit against Nintendo claiming ownership of King Kong and claiming Nintendo had infringed upon its trademark the remaining companies that had licensing deals with Nintendo all gave into Universal except for Milton Bradley and Ralston Purina which stayed with Nintendo Ralston Purina tried a five thousand dollar settlement but Sid Sheinberg found it the most stupid thing I have ever heard of and threw them out of his office the epic battle between David and Goliath was about to begin to represent Nintendo Lincoln hired John Kirby a lawyer with Latham and Watkins at first glance John Kirby didn’t seem like a good lawyer to Howard Lincoln when I initially met him I wasn’t all that impressed he was kind of disheveled looking and out of sorts but Kirby was one hell of a lawyer he had a reputation for defending his clients Adam li and had one big antitrust cases for Pepsi Howard Lincoln and John Kirby flew to Japan to speak with Hiroshi Yamauchi about the case Yamaguchi did not like lawyers and here he had to standing in front of him he made himself clear when he stated we must win after interviewing gunpei Yokoi creator of the Gameboy and Shigeru Miyamoto the creator of Donkey Kong and other staff members about the game the two headed back to the United States to prepare for the case then came the discovery that would change everything Howard Lincoln’s instincts were correct Universal didn’t own King Kong in fact they had recently won the court case proving that King Kong was in public domain they did this so they can make that 1970s remake of the original King Kong Lincoln also discovered the agreement between Universal and calico as well as Cheyne Berg’s motives to enter the video game business and push away competitors these new motives made the case very clear because of his help and his firm decision to fight Universal Arakawa offered Howard Lincoln the job of senior vice president of Nintendo Lincoln who had been working almost exclusively with Nintendo anyways agreed and put in his thirty days notice at his law firm on December 7th the case took place in the New York courtroom of US District Court Judge Robert W sweet Nintendo had Jerry Mamata who was their market research analyst played Donkey Kong for the entire courtroom to show there was no infringement on King Kong the games were in the courtroom and and I played both Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong jr. you know in front of Judge sweet I guess the rest is history furthermore John Kirby presented a testimony from Shigeru Miyamoto who explained that he initially named the ape character King Kong simply because King Kong was a generic term in Japan for menacing ape John Kirby also brought up the older court cases that Universal filed to prove that King Kong was public main in that Universal had filed this suit knowing they did not own the rights to King Kong he also mentioned Sheinberg statement of viewing litigation as a profit Center judge Robert W sweet had heard enough he concluded that Nintendo did not infringe on universals rights because they did not even own the rights and even if they did own the rights the game Donkey Kong had nothing to do with King Kong so he criticized Universal for even bringing this case to court knowing full well they did not own the rights to King Kong and thus Nintendo would be awarded damages now Universal would appeal this case several times all the way to the US Supreme Court but they failed Nintendo was awarded one point eight million dollars soon after all the companies at at licensed Donkey Kong began suing Universal trying to get the royalties back that they paid to them this included Coleco and Atari Universal settled with most of them this case not only gave Nintendo a hefty amount of money but it also established them as a legitimate company and one that could handle themselves against the bigger companies it was an inspiration to not only the video game industry but any small company trying to make it so what happened next for everyone involved Howard Lincoln continued to work with Nintendo for several more years becoming chairman in 1994 after leaving Nintendo he took over as chairman of the Seattle Mariners baseball team which is owned by Nintendo John Kirby was rewarded with his own sailboat christened Donkey Kong many say he is also the inspiration for the Nintendo character Kirby he continued his job for many more years before retiring in 2007 Coleco would soon leave the video game industry and begin selling dolls the company closed its doors in 1989 and as for Universal still hoping to enter the video game business they bought a small company known as LJ n to create video games in 1994 they created their own game studio you versal interactive which published games such as Spyro the Dragon and Crash Bandicoot in December of 2000 they were acquired by Vivendi and as for Nintendo well you know

100 thoughts on “Universal vs. Nintendo Case – Gaming Historian”

  1. Nintendo pretty much saved the gaming industry and beat the living shit out of a big time movie company in the US. Wow!

  2. — A giant gorilla being exploted by Universal Studios doesnt give it the right to the exclusive use– "Oscarlobaton, Youtuber"

  3. I can't belive that Universal sued Nintendo. 😭😭😭😭😭😭😢😢😢😢😢😢 Universal🔫 Gets shot.

  4. Fascinating, Nintendo & Universal used to hate each other back then. Nowadays, Nintendo & Universal are becoming friends like building a Nintendo theme park in Universal Studios, and Nintendo & Illumination making a Mario movie.

  5. You know whats the ironic part on this whole video, is that Nintendo is having their section on the Park of same company who tried to sue Nintendo so many time in the years. LoL

  6. This video's epilogue could do with a wee update, now that Universal and Nintendo are partnering in the theme park business.

  7. How is this David vs. Goliath? Nintendo was backed by Milton Bradly and Ralston Purina. RP alone should dwarf Universal studios, right?

  8. I think paramount is going to sue Nintendo because Warioware gold has a character which has a name from a character which was made 70'years prior to Warioware gold! (Play the game to see what I'm talking about) both characters are red! And the character was owned by paramount!

  9. Hey Gaming Historian , what is your take on John Kirby leaving Nintendo in 2007 ? You didn't talk about that in the video , I'm kind of curious .

  10. 28 years later Nintendo and Universal had a good relationship and now they made a deal for making Super Nintendo World themed park at Universal Studios

  11. Quick Update: NBC Acquired Universal From Vivendi in 2004 to Become NBCUniversal. Then, in 2009, NBCUniversal Was Acquired by Comcast.

  12. Sid Sheinberg, great job living up The stereotype of a money-grubbing Jew sure your people are real proud. SMH.

  13. Dude, I love your channel, but I do have to make fun of you for your fake nonchalance when you're like "let me take a break from grading these papers…"

  14. sheinberg looks and sounds like a money grabbing wretch.
    'I view litigation as a profit centre '. Who on earth actually says that out loud.
    Can you imagine dealing with such a guy? You can tell he's brimming with anger for no reason.

  15. I always wondered what Kong planned to do with the woman he was trying to abduct? Rape, start a family, open a dry cleaning franchise with her? Was he dragging her off for an inter-video game character gang bang with Miss Pac Man, Popeye, the chap who flew the flying horse in Joust, centipede, the bloke who piloted the R-Type ship and Paperboy?
    I suppose it'll just have to go down as one of the great unanswered questions of history.

  16. 11:09 ljn Avgn's nightmare
    They got defeated by nintendo and then they created shitty games for them
    #avgn

  17. And now a theme park and a mario movie are being made from Universal.

    And Comcast might just acquire them next.

  18. Universal sues Nintendo yet they don’t own King Kong, and charges other companies for royalty wow

  19. How's your profit center now asshole? 😂🤣😂🤣

    Omg. LJN? Of course they are associated. The unholy disaster video game pushers that have ruined many a Christmas. That dude is the real life Grinch

  20. Cool documentary of a classic story of "Kong" name rights. My question is, when is Nintendo ever going to bring arcade perfect ports of DK and DKJr to consoles? The NES versions are good but not even close to the original arcade versions.

  21. Lol this video ended like one of those summer coming of age movies where it showed what happened to all the characters after they grew up

  22. It's funny, today Nintendo is the bully company that likes to sue its fans over youtube videos " yes even Donkey Kong ". I was copyrighted marked on here over videos of me playing DK, no video game sound but a music overlay. I even got a letter from Nintendo of America to threaten to sue me for about 25 play videos and links on my videos for what they called illegal works of art " hand-drawn my me " of Dk and jump man that could be downloaded free of charge. Nintendo is very sue-happy today and even over things they don't own the copyrights to and are known for stealing patients from smaller tech companies. they just keep them locked in court for years until the persons can't afford to fight any longer, then they sue them for lawyers fees. this is a huge business for Nintendo and the japan courts always sides with them

  23. The case took place BEFORE The 1st Kirby Game Release. It actually was renamed to Kirby after the case.

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