On This Day In Video Game History: March 18

On March 18, 1982..

Let's go back to this day in 1982 when a ruling would mark how the copyright law would apply to the design and actual gameplay of video games when the judge reversed a ruling on the Magnavox vs. Atari case.

Federal Judge George N. Leighton ruled in favor of Atari versus Magnavox when the former accused the latter of releasing a game that was a little to similar to Pac-Man. Atari had purchased the rights to Pac-Man earlier and was planning to release the game exclusively on their Atari 2600 video game console.

The first ruling in the Federal Court had earlier ruled that the game by Magnavox, K.C. Munchkin!, was not in violation of any copyright laws because the codes were different. While it was true that there were some marked similarities between Pac-Man and Munchkin, there were also many differences in gameplay between the two games. However, Atari appealed the decision and eventually got the ruling to go their way.

Magnavox was ordered to stop selling K.C. Munchkin! and pull the game off the shelves immediately. In an ironic turn of events, Atari's home-version of Pac-Man for the Atari 2600 did very poorly and was one of the factors that led to the video game crash of 1983.

Were you able to get a copy of the K.C. Munchkin! video game before the ruling was reversed? Which game was the winner for you: K.C. Munchkin! or Pac-Man?