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Tengen game cartridge. Tengen Inc. was an American video game developer/publisher created by Atari Games for publishing computer and console games. When Atari Games wanted to enter the console game market, it needed to create a new label that did not use the Atari name. The new subsidiary was dubbed Tengen. At the time, Nintendo restricted their licensees to releasing only five games per year, mandating that Nintendo handle cartridge manufacturing and requiring their games to be NES-exclusive for two years. Atari Games tried to negotiate for a less restrictive license to produce games for the NES; Nintendo refused, so in Dec. 1987, Atari Games agreed to Nintendo's standard licensing terms. Tengen was incorporated Dec. 21, 1987. Tengen released the only games licensed by Nintendo - R.B.I. Baseball, Pac-Man and Gauntlet. Meanwhile, Tengen was secretly working to bypass Nintendo's 10NES lock-out chip, reverse engineering the chip and deciphering the code required to unlock it. However, their engineers were unable to accomplish this goal, so Tengen turned to the US Copyright Office, requesting a copy of the Nintendo lock-out program, claiming that the company needed it for potential litigation against Nintendo. Once obtained, the program was used to create its own chip that would unlock the NES. Tengen announced that they were going to release their own cartridges in Dec. 1988. When Tengen launched these unlicensed versions of its games, Nintendo immediately sued Tengen for copyright and patent infringement. Of note, Tengen faced a legal challenge from Nintendo in 1989 over copyright controversy regarding Tengen's release of Tetris (offered here). Tengen lost this suit and was forced to recall what was estimated to be hundreds and thousands of unsold cartridges of its version of Tetris (having sold only about 50,000 copies). This recall resulted in sealed copies such as the example offered here becoming rare.
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