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Arbitral Ruling Finds Cooking Mama: Cookstar Game's Release Unlawful

posted on by Adriana Hazra
Tribunal finds Planet Entertainment was not authorized to release, distribute game

Japanese game developer Office Create announced on its website on Thursday the Arbitral Tribunal at the International Chamber of Commerce International Court of Arbitration (ICC) has found that Planet Entertainment was not authorized to release or distribute the Cooking Mama: Cookstar game. The ICC Arbitral Tribunal's ruling stated the license agreement between the two companies had already been "validly terminated" at the time of the game's release on the Switch console's eShop on March 2020.

The ruling further stated that "the unlicensed 'Cooking Mama: Cookstar' products infringe Office Create's trademarks under 15 U.S.C. § 1114 and common law and registered copyrights under 17 U.S.C. § 501, that they had engaged in unfair competition, that the packaging, labeling and games themselves falsely identify the origin of goods as 'Office Create' in violation of 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a), and that they are financially liable for their conduct."

Office Create stated it is "undertaking all necessary steps to ensure that the infringing 'Cooking Mama: Cookstar' video games (digital and physical copies) are removed from the market."

Office Create announced in April 2020 that it had terminated Planet Entertainment's license for the game for breach of contract and was evaluating legal action against the company. Office Create claimed that while it had licensed the Cooking Mama: Cookstar game to Planet Entertainment for development, the game failed to meet Office Create's standards, and Planet Entertainment had failed to address Office Create's concerns.

Planet Entertainment had responded to Office Create's claims stating that it and 1st Playable Productions, Cooking Mama: Cookstar's developer, followed a game design previously approved by Office Create, but that there were "creative differences" between Planet Entertainment and Office Create toward the end of the game's development that were supposedly outside of the companies' agreement and the original design. Planet Entertainment claimed that it was within its rights to publish the game, with no rule in place to prevent the company from doing so.

Planet Entertainment briefly released the Cooking Mama: Cookstar game on the Switch console's eShop in March 2020, but the game was removed shortly after. Planet Entertainment then released the game for PlayStation 4 in April 2021, although Office Create claimed it "had not licensed any entity, including Planet, to develop a PS4 Cooking Mama game."

Office Create and Taito released the first Cooking Mama game on Nintendo DS in Japan in 2006. The franchise has since spawned several sequels and spinoff games, such as Babysitting Mama, Gardening Mama, and Camping Mama. Cooking Mama: Sweet Shop debuted in Japan for the Nintendo 3DS in 2014, and in the West in 2017.

Source: Office Create's website via Game Developer

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