Atari Shark Jaws arcade game

Blood in the video game waters. Shark Jaws arcade game, 1975

Shark Jaws - The Horror of IP Infringement

Horror Games/Atari 1975

Shark Jaws: “Exciting Underwater Video Terror”

Atari video arcade game Shark Jaws cabinet and game characters

Atari sets the bait for a lawsuit: shark JAWS

After they release Tank under the Kee label in 1974, on Sept. 25th, 1975 Atari produces another game under a pseudonymous company name, this one called Shark Jaws. The first game featuring animated characters, its electronic guts are converted Tank hardware. It is also manufacturer Horror Games’ first and last outing, a company created by Atari to avoid any possible legal hassles over the game from the producers of its obvious inspiration: Universal Studio’s 1975 smash-hit movie Jaws. Even flyers sent out to prospective buyers prod them to “cash in on the popularity, interest and profits associated with sharks”. What’s a few maimed swimmers between profit margins, right? The ability to eliminate any affiliation between the two isn’t helped by the fact that the cabinet artwork features the word shark in tiny letters with JAWS looming large next to it. In the game, the player controls a SCUBA diver trying to spear a small fish swimming around the screen. On his tail is a bigger fish to fry, a shark intent on finishing him off. Bushnell and Atari swim through the bloodied waters of copyright infringement unscathed: Universal doesn’t bite.

Shark Jaws is one of a few arcade games riding the wake of Spielberg’s fishy fiend, including Shark by U.S. Billiards, Maneater by PSE, Blue Shark by Midway, and Shark Attack by Pacific Novelty. Games by Apollo, a producer of video games for Atari’s later home game machine the VCS, comes under the steely gaze of Universal Pictures’ lawyers in 1982. The cartridge maker is persuaded to change the name of one of their products, Lochjaw.  Company president Pat Roper isn’t happy about the forced change, insisting that the original title does not infringe on Universal’s Jaws properties, but feels it is just easier to avoid litigation and rename the game to Shark Attack. Universal fails to protest the new name, apparently not attracted by such chum. logo_stop

Sources (Click to view)

I.C. When – 1975 –

The Arcade Flyer Archive

Gamearchive –
Electronic Games, “Electronic Games Hotline: New Name for Fishy Game”, pg. 9, Nov 1982. Retrieved from the Internet Archive, Electronic Games magazine collection.
The Bronze Age Arcade Game Archive – List by Year –
Kondorito. “Nintendo NES 3D Boxes Pack.” EmuMovies. N.p., 20 Feb. 2019. Web. 21 Aug. 2020. Image of box for NES version of Jaws
Zxspecticle. “Sinclair ZX Spectrum 3D Boxes Pack.” EmuMovies. N.p., 25 May 2018. Web. 21 Aug. 2020. Image of the Jaws box for the ZX Spectrum
Retango. “Commodore 64 2D Boxes Pack.” EmuMovies. N.p., 02 July 2019. Web. 20 Aug. 2020. Image of box for Jaws, C64 version
Robin55. “Microsoft Windows-PC 2D Discs Pack (2883).” EmuMovies. N.p., 19 Aug. 2019. Web. 23 Aug. 2020. Image of disc for PC version of Jaws Unleashed

External Links (Click to view)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *